NASA Launched a Rocket 54 Years Ago. Has It Finally Come Home?

It was after midnight on Sept. 19 and Paul Chodas, the manager of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was working late, studying an object called 2020 SO that other astronomers had spotted in the night skies just the day before. Something about its orbit was peculiar.

The computer program he was working with showed that 2020 SO followed a nearly circular path just slightly outside our planet’s orbit. And the plane of the object’s orbit was just barely tilted relative to Earth’s.

“I was suspicious immediately,” he said.

Out of curiosity, Dr. Chodas ran his simulation in reverse. With time dialing backward, he watched 2020 SO pass very near Earth in September 1966. “Close enough that it could have originated from the Earth,” he said.

At 1:12 a.m., Dr. Chodas acted on his hunch, and sent an email to fellow astronomers with a subject line of “2020 SO = Surveyor 2 Centaur r/b?” In the months that followed, amateur skywatchers and professional astronomers alike have been tracking this specter with their telescopes, following what many believe is a rocket booster that flew toward the moon more than 50 years ago during a failed NASA mission.

On Tuesday, the object, now temporarily orbiting Earth, will make its closest pass. And with more observations, scientists hope to find conclusive evidence that the dot on their monitors really is a ghost of the Cold War moon race.

Hopes were high when Surveyor 2 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sept. 20, 1966. NASA designed the roughly one-ton lunar lander to collect images of the moon in preparation for the Apollo missions. It was following close on the heels of its successful predecessor, Surveyor 1, launched just a few months earlier, which had landed on the moon and returned over 11,000 images.

Surveyor 1 performed flawlessly, said Mike Dinn, then the deputy station director of Australia’s Tidbinbilla Tracking Station, where giant radio antennas communicated with the spacecraft during its journey. “We fully expected Surveyor 2 to be a complete success.”

But it wasn’t — the spacecraft crashed into the moon. Its death knell came roughly 16 hours after launch, when one of the three small engines attached to the spacecraft’s legs failed to fire. The imbalanced thrust sent Surveyor 2 into a spin, and after 38 unsuccessful attempts to revive the engine it became clear that the mission could not be salvaged. Mr. Dinn and his colleagues at Tidbinbilla were the last people to communicate with the spacecraft.

(Five more Surveyor missions followed, and four were successful before NASA switched its focus to human exploration of the moon.)

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The UAE has successfully launched the Arab world’s first Mars mission

The United Arab Emirates successfully launched its Mars-bound Hope Probe on Sunday, marking the the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission — and the first of three international missions to the Red Planet this summer.

a satellite in space


The Hope Probe took off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, after a delay last week due to bad weather. The solid rocket booster successfully separated from the launch vehicle, and the probe has established two-way communication with the ground segment in Dubai.

The Al Amal probe, as it is called in Arabic, is expected to reach Mars by February 2021. It will be the first time the UAE has orbited Mars, and the probe will stay in orbit for a Martian year — equivalent to 687 days on Earth — to gather data about Mars’ atmosphere.

“It’s an honor to be part of the global efforts to explore deep space,” tweeted the official Hope Mars Mission account after the launch. “The Hope Probe is the culmination of every single step that humans have taken throughout history to explore the unknown depths of space.”

The United States and China are also embarking on Mars missions this summer. NASA’s Perseverance Rover and China’s Tianwen 1 are expected to launch sometime between late July and early August, though the exact date will depend on daily launch conditions.

These three countries are all launching this summer due to the occurrence of a biennial window when Earth and Mars are closest together, making the journey a little bit shorter.

NASA tweeted its congratulations after Hope’s successful launch, writing on Perseverance’s official Twitter page: “I wish you a successful journey and look forward to the sol when we are both exploring Mars … I cannot wait to join you on the journey!”

Growing space sector

The Hope Probe is the UAE’s latest and most ambitious step in its burgeoning space sector.

The UAE has launched satellites before — in 2009 and 2013 — but they were developed with South Korean partners. The country founded its space agency in 2014, and has set ambitious targets including a colony on the Martian surface by 2117.

Government officials have previously spoken of the space program as a catalyst for the country’s growing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) sector.

Simply making it this far was an impressive feat for the Gulf country. Most Mars missions take between 10 to 12 years to develop — but UAE scientists had just six years to carry out the project.

To build the spacecraft, they partnered with a team in the US, at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. And to find a novel science objective for Hope’s mission, they consulted the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG), a forum created by NASA to plan explorations of Mars.

They decided to use Hope to build the first full picture of Mars’ climate throughout the Martian year, said Sarah Al Amiri, the mission’s science lead.

“The data gathered by the

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The day the Blues launched the career of an NHL coaching legend | St. Louis Blues

Scotty Bowman

Scotty Bowman in 1968, on the way to leading the Blues to their second consecutive Stanley Cup final. AP photo

On Nov. 22, 1967, the expansion St. Louis Blues were in last place. They turned to rookie coach Scotty Bowman, who would lead them to the Stanley Cup Final three years in a row and become the winningest coach in NHL history. Here is our original coverage.

Lynn Patrick, who has doubled as general manager-coach of the Blues, turned over the coaching job to assistant Bill (Scotty) Bowman today. Patrick will continue as general manager.

The change in command, after 16 games in the Blues’ rookie season in the National Hockey League, came just a few hours before tonight’s 8 o’clock game here with the Montreal Canadiens, the club with which Bowman bad been identified until last year.

Bowman, 34 year old, was playing for the Canadiens’ Montreal juniors, their top amateur team, when he suffered a head injury in 1952. The mishap ended his playing career, but he then became a winning coach in the Montreal system.

Patrick, 55, said the decision to step down was influenced by the demanding duties of his position as general manager.

“We hired Scotty with the idea that he would become coach, if not this year, the next year,” Patrick said.

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 “I now will have more time  to keep in touch with our young players on our Kansas City team. Keep up with scouting reports and, in general, build a successful hockey system.”

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A British grocer launched a chicken nugget into space and filmed it

  • British frozen foods grocer Iceland Foods sent a chicken nugget 20.7 miles into space to celebrate the grocer’s 50th birthday.
  • The nugget took nearly two hours to reach its peak in the region known as near space, where temperatures can reach as low as -85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • It spent around an hour “floating” at its destination, before returning to Earth in a gas-filled weather balloon. Its parachute opened around 12 miles above ground level.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

British frozen-foods grocer Iceland Foods sent a chicken nugget into space for the first time in history.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary last week, Iceland hired space marketing company Sent Into Space for the marketing stunt.

The company launched the nugget to an altitude of 110,000 feet, or 20.7 miles, into the region known as near space. This is the height of roughly 880,000 Iceland chicken nuggets, Iceland claims.

The nugget made it roughly a third of the way to outer space, which begins at around 62 miles above Earth.

“The nugget spent an hour floating up and around in space,” Sent Into Space said, but the nugget was “unbothered” by the low pressure and temperatures that can dip down to -85 degrees Fahrenheit.


The nugget then rocketed back down to Earth at 200 miles per hour, Iceland Foods said, and its parachute opened at roughly 12 miles above ground level.

Sent Into Space launched the nugget from a farm near Iceland’s headquarters in North Wales, and it took just under two hours to reach its destination. The nugget was carried by a gas-filled weather balloon with a satellite tracking system so that the company could monitor its location. An integrated camera filmed the nugget’s journey.

Read more: How brands should be marketing to the $143 billion Gen Z market if they want their products to go wild on social media

The grocer joked that the nugget “left behind grey skies, COVID-19, Brexit, and Piers Morgan” to enjoy “momentary peace, clearer skies, spacecraft, and possible sightings of the world’s highest flying birds such as the Rüppell’s Vulture and the Common Crane.”

Iceland chicken nugget space

The nugget spent an hour floating in space before rocketing back to Earth.


Iceland Foods, which is the UK’s ninth-biggest grocer with around 950 stores, specializes in frozen food and sells more than 60 varieties of private-label breaded chicken products. It sold more than 10 million chicken products in the first week of October alone.

Sent Into Space has previously launched other food into space including fish and chips, a pasty, and pancakes.

In October, NASA launched 10 bottles of skincare serum by beauty giant Estée Lauder into space for a photoshoot. The company paid NASA around $128,000 to take pictures of the product from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s efforts to promote commercial opportunities in space.

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Chicken nugget launched: A British supermarket put the food product into space

Scientists have launched plenty of people and things into space, but a British supermarket is the first to send up a piece of breaded protein.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Iceland Foods Ltd., commonly known as Iceland, sent a chicken nugget into the cosmos.

In a video released by the chain, viewers can watch the nugget’s ascent into space.
The grocery store chain hired Sent Into Space to launch the chicken nugget into space. According to its website, Sent Into Space is the “world’s leading space marketing company, specialising in space-themed marketing campaigns and publicity stunts.”
“From a site in rural Wales, the nugget traveled through the Earth’s atmosphere to an altitude of 110,000 feet (that’s 33.5 km) where it floated in the region known as Near Space,” Sent Into Space wrote in a statement on its website. That would be 20.7 miles.

The nugget spent an hour “floating” in space in low pressure and temperatures that can drop to -65 degrees Celsius, according to Sent Into Space.

Near space is the region between our livable atmosphere and outer space, accoring to Sent Into Space. It begins roughly 12 miles (19 km) above Earth where atmospheric pressure reaches the point where a human requires a pressurized suit to survive. Outer space begins at roughly 62 miles (100 km) above earth.
The nugget was launched near the company’s headquarters in Wales in a gas-filled weather balloon with an auxiliary satellite tracking system and integrated camera support. The Irish News reported that the nugget descended at 200 mph, with a parachute deploying around 62,000 feet for the nugget’s protection.
“What better way to show that our products are out of this world than by sending one of our customer favorites into space?” Andrew Staniland, Iceland’s trading director, told The Irish News.

“We’ve all changed the way we shop in recent months and frozen food has never been so popular. We’re looking forward to continuing to celebrate our 50th year with customers and thanking them for their support.”

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