Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beagle 2 the Moon

The years 1968-69 were a very exciting time in Space. 1968 saw Apollo 7 launch into Earth orbit and Apollo 8 boldly circle the Moon. 40 years ago this month the Apollo 10 crew came within a few miles of the lunar surface. The Apollo and lunar module were respectively named Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

The 1960's were also the heyday of Charles Schulz' Peanuts comic strip. After the tragedy of Apollo 1, NASA adopted Snoopy as a safety mascot. Schulz first drew Snoopy as an astronaut for a pin awarded to exemplary employees. He also drew Snoopy for safety posters which appeared at NASA workcenters. Schulz thought that Snoopy's voyage into Space with Apollo 10 was the highlight of his successful life.

Today, the black & white Communications Carrier Assemblies that astronauts wear beneath their helmets have are known as "Snoopy caps." The Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California is hosting a unique exhibit "To the Moon: Snoopy Soars With NASA" through July 20. The exhibit includes original drawings and NASA memorabilia from that exciting time. On June 27 they welcome special guest Rusty Schweickhart. Bring your skates, because the museum has a very nice ice skating rink.

Beagle 2 (named after Charles Darwin's ship) was the unsuccessful Mars lander that disappeared in 2003. We are still not sure if the lander actually reached Mars. Scientists here at Johnson Space Center have proposed Beagle 2 the Moon. This inexpensive mission would test the Beagle 2 science package on our satellite. We may someday hear from the Moon that the Beagle has landed.

NEXT: Looking forward, an exclusive look at a new lunar lander taking shape.

Mang's Bat Page hosts the new Carnival Of Space!

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