April 01 – 331 Etheridgea

Asteroid 331 Etheridgea is a 75 km (47 miles) wide main belt asteroid of unknown spectral type, discovered  by Auguste Charlois on April 1st 1892.

The reason for the name is unknown, but I’ve got a hunch that it refers to the palaeontologist Robert Etheridge, who in 1892 would have been a big name in scientific circles, being president of the Geological Society of London, and a fellow of the Royal Society.

Weather satellite TIROS 1 (Television Infrared Orbiting Satellite) began a two and a half month mission on this day in 1960, launched by a Thor rocket from Cape Canaveral.  It orbited the Earth every 98 minutes at about 400 miles (650 km) altitude, shooting video of the cloud cover down here when it was able to  (TIROS 1 was “spin stabilized”, meaning  it could only take pictures if the cameras were pointing in the right direction; and it had to be daylight as well, because, I assume, the idea of sending a five-mile wide flashbulb into orbit was deemed unrealistic).

Artist's Impression of TIROS 1
Artist’s Impression of TIROS 1

Despite only  being operational for 78 days, TIROS 1 was a successful test satellite, and paved the way for a further 9 TIROS launches over the next five years.