Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Early Explorers

The first space satellite the United States sent into orbit was Explorer 1, launched on January 31, 1958. While the satellite didn’t beat Sputnik 1 into space, it accomplished considerably more than the Soviet probe. Explorer 1 carried equipment that discovered the innermost of the Van Allen radiation belts, two zones of charged particles that surround the earth. By 1975, when the Explorer series of missions ended, 55 satellites had been launched, including Explorer 38 (July 4, 1968), which detected galactic radio sources, and Explorer 53 (May 7, 1975), which investigated x-ray emission inside and beyond the Milky Way.

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