September 27 – Launch of SMART 1 (2003)

2003  —  Launch of SMART 1 (Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology) by ESA.  SMART 1 was the first ESA probe to the Moon, and set a couple of unusual records.  It became the first mission to leave Earth orbit using just solar power, and the slowest ever to the Moon, taking 13 months.  It also holds the record for the lowest fuel consumption on an Earth to Moon journey.  As well as testing new power sources, SMART 1 did carry imaging equipment, and identified this location . . . .

Shackleton Crater viewed by SMART 1 (image credit: ESA)

. . . . as the best place to site solar panels for a future lunar base.

September 27 – Launch of “DAWN” (2007)

DAWN was launched on Sept 27th, 2007 to rendezvous with Vesta and Ceres.  Vesta was visited in July 2011, resulting in this fabulous photograph, below.

Composite image of Vesta from the DAWN spacecraft (image credit: NASA)

Ceres was reached in March 2015, and DAWN is currently (September 2016) orbiting at a height of just over 900 miles, and has been busy sending back excitingly detailed shots like this one . . .

Ceres from DAWN (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

. . .  and this one:

Ceres: the area around Gerber Catena (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

September 27 – Discovery of Asteroid 134 Sophrosyne (1873)

Asteroid 134 Sophrosyne was discovered on September 27th 1873 by Robert Luther. Its a dark, C-type, main belt asteroid, with an estimated diameter, derived from occultation observations, of 110 km (68 miles).

Sophrosyne was one of the many spirits to escape from Pandora’s jar. As a goddess she represents a concept almost completely alien today in the westernised world, that of enlightenment and happiness achieved through harmonious living, restraint, patience and self-knowledge (rather than through the acquisiton of 4x4s and HD-TVs).

There are very few representations of today’s goddess floating around, and to be honest I could have shown you a shot of almost any classically dressed woman looking a bit thoughtful and passed her off as Sophrosyne, but I haven’t.

Instead, here is Dutch/British artist Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s depiction of Pandora, looking like she’s about to do something she might later regret.

ALSO TODAY . . . .
1814 — Birth of American astronomer, Daniel Kirkwood, the man who noticed the gaps in the asteroid belt which now bear his name. I look forward to receiving hits from Evertonians (another Dan Kirkwood was a player and director there).

2003 — Launch of Kaistsat 4 (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology SATellite), aka STSAT-1, with the primary mission of studying galactic hot plasma.