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TELESCOPES: Italian scientist, Galileo made important discoveries with the telescope. Early Greek and Roman scientists believed that Earth was the centre of the Universe. Copernicus was the first scientist to state that the Earth orbited the Sun. Galileo discovered that he was right using his telescope, but the Church forced him to change his mind. He announced publicly that he does not believe that the Earth orbits the Sun. However, some people claim that Galileo whispered, “But I do believe it,” as he left the crowd.

PROBES:Manned and unmanned space probes have provided a great new source of scientific data on the nature and origin of the solar system. As the closest neighbor of the earth, the moon has been the objective of many space missions. In 1958 the first attempts by the United States and the USSR at lunar probes failed. The Russian Luna 2, launched September 12, 1959, hit the moon 36 hours later. Since that date, many moon shots have been made by both countries, with mixed results. The first photographs of the far side of the moon were taken by Luna 3, which was launched by the USSR on October 4, 1959. One of the most dramatically successful moon shots was the mission accomplished by Ranger 7. Just before hitting the side of the moon that faces the earth, it transmitted 4316 television pictures of the lunar surface. 

Luna 3
Oct. 4, 1959
Takes first photographs of the far side of the moon.
Luna 9
Jan. 31, 1966
First probe to make soft landing on the moon.
Surveyor 1

Surveyor 3
Surveyor 5
May 30, 1966

Apr. 17, 1967
Nov. 8, 1967
Probes make soft landings on the moon and send several thousand close-up photographs back to the earth. Surveyor 3 examines samples of lunar soil; Surveyor 5 performs the first on-site chemical analysis of extraterrestrial materials.
Luna 17
Nov. 10, 1970
Soft-lands automated lunar roving vehicle, Lunokhod 1, which relays a great deal of scientific data and pictures to the earth.
Mars 2

Mars 3
May 19, 1971

May 28, 1971
Probes crash-land on Mars after briefly transmitting data.
Mariner 9
May 30, 1971
Orbits Mars for nearly a year, collecting information for a near-complete map of the planet.
Pioneer 10

Pioneer 11
Mar. 2, 1972

Apr. 5, 1973
Probes pass through undetected asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter before approaching Jupiter. Pioneer 11 ceased responding to commands from the earth in 1995. Pioneer 10 still transmits data about the outer edges of the solar system.
Mariner 10
Nov. 3, 1973
Mariner 10 comes within 317 km (197 mi) of Mercury, providing the first views of Mercury's surface and detecting an unexpected magnetic field.
Venera 9

Venera 10
June 8, 1975

June 14, 1975
First probes to successfully land on Venus and relay pictures of the planet's surface.
Viking 1

Viking 2
Aug. 20, 1975

Sept. 9, 1975
Probes travel to Mars, equipped with landers, laboratories, weather instruments, retractable claws, and television cameras. Both transmit valuable information for years.
Voyager 1

Voyager 2

Sept. 5, 1977

Aug. 20, 1977

First probes to successfully relay pictures and information about Saturn. Voyager 2 discovers four new rings and ten new moons around Uranus, as well as six new moons around Neptune. Both probes are at the outskirts of the solar system, still transmitting data.
Venera 11

Venera 12
Sept. 9, 1978

Sept. 14, 1978
Probes land on Venus, transmitting data from that planet's lower atmosphere.
Pioneer Venus 1

(Pioneer 12)
Pioneer Venus 2
(Pioneer 13)
May 20, 1978

Aug. 8, 1978

Both missions consist of an orbiter and five atmospheric probes, which map Venus and analyze its atmosphere.

Oct. 18, 1989
Transmits photos and data about Jupiter; released a probe in 1995 that provided data about Jupiter's atmosphere.

ROCKETS: On April 12, 1961, Gagarin, then a major in the air force, became the first man to travel in space when he rode aboard the earth satellite Vostok (later referred to as Vostok 1) on a 27,400 km/hr (17,000 mph) single orbit of the earth. The flight lasted 1 hr 48 min, on an elliptical course having an apogee of 327 km (203 mi) and a perigee of 180 km (112 mi). He was killed in the crash of a test airplane. In 1969, the USA launched Apollo 11, which landed on the Moon. There were several astronauts but only one of them was brave enough to be the first human to land on the moon : Neil Armstrong.