Oh dear, it's the end of February already! At least it looks like spring might slowly be sneaking in - you can see the first green efforts already. And during the past days, the cranes have been circling the skies on their way back to central Europe, which always makes you feel like the worst cold times are over now.
February is also - now and through the years - apparently a month of planetary excursions, important women and adventurous flights.
THE breaking news for this month is without doubt the successful landing of Perseverance on Mars. We have watched and followed the landing excitedly, as you may have done also. Now we're really looking forward to interesting news from this planet. And that's not the only currently ongoing mission - others are rapidly advancing, but focused on different aspects of research. Perseverance's mission is to collect rock samples, which will eventually be returned to Earth (rest assured, this takes a while).
Quite a while back - but not really that long ago, not even 100 years back - in February 1930, Pluto was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh.
[Photo published in "Popular Science Monthly"]
Only 31 years ago, in 1990, the Galileo spacecraft flew past Venus on its way to Jupiter. During several years, it reliably transmitted quite interesting images from the Jupiter surroundings, despite a much worse image transmission than originally foreseen, and until it was sent to its autodestruction in 2003.
One year ago, Katherine Johnson passed away at the age of 101. We'll light a little candle for remembrance here, so she's not so easily forgotten.
In 1995, Eileen Collins became the first female astronaut to pilot and command a US Space Shuttle.
In 1995, Steve Fossett, a highly adventurous investment banker, economist and dedicated world traveler, was the first person to fly across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.
[Credits: US Coast Guard]
And then, in 1962, John Glenn was the first US astronaut to orbit Earth, and this three times in a row - the year before, Yuri Gagarin had only accomplished one round. His triple orbit round went really well despite a faulty thruster AND a faulty switch on-board the Friendship 7 space capsule.