Special Report

The Most Important Events in NASA's History

Source: Courtesy of NASA / JPL-Caltech / SETI Institute

41. Jupiter may have warm ice
> Date: Aug. 13, 1996

NASA’s Galileo probe produced data from Jupiter that indicated the giant planet’s moon Europa may contain “warm ice” or possibly liquid water, which are key to sustaining life. NASA officials emphasized that the photos do not conclusively prove this.

Source: NASA / Wikimedia Commons

42. Pathfinder lands on Mars
> Date: July 4, 1997

The Pathfinder probe landed on Mars by employing a parachute to decelerate its descent and a system of airbags to absorb the impact of landing. The probe carried a 23-pound robotic rover that recorded weather patterns and the chemical composition of rocks in the floodplain. The vehicle captured more data on the atmosphere, weather, and geology than scientists had expected.

Source: NASA / Getty Images

43. Possible planet outside solar system
> Date: May 28, 1998

Astronomers spotted what was believed to be the first planet outside the solar system through the Hubble Space Telescope. The object was 450 light years from Earth.

Source: NASA

44. Glenn is oldest man in space
> Date: Oct. 29, 1998

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, also became the oldest person to go into space, at age 77.

Source: NASA

45. International Space Station construction starts
> Date: Dec. 6, 1998

The building of the International Space Station began in 1998 when the U.S.-constructed Unity node and the Russian-built Zarya — the Russian word for sunrise — module joined in orbit.

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