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Born, Gemma Frisius, Dutch geographer, astronomical instrument maker, first described triangulation for surveying and using an accurate clock to determine longitude
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, Metius (Adriaan Adriaanszoon), Dutch mathematician and astronomer
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Comet 3D/1805 V1 (Biela) approached within 0.0366 AUs (3.4 million miles) of Earth, the fourth closest known approach of a comet prior to 2006.
ref: cneos.jpl.nasa.gov

Born, Clarence Birdseye, considered the founder of the modern frozen food industry. Frozen food, and the technologies derived from it, are important for providing palatable foods for space travel.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

A. Charlois discovered asteroid #349 Dembowska.

A. Charlois discovered asteroid #409 Aspasia.

H. Vogt discovered asteroid #735 Marghanna.

Born, Curtis Pitts, designer of the Pitts Special and other aircraft
ref: en.wikipedia.org

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1104 Syringa.

The US Army rocket plane XS-1 made its first powered flight, the fifteenth flight of the aircraft.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

NASA Pioneer Venus 2 (Pioneer 13) probes entered the Venusian atmosphere and landed on the surface of Venus.
Pioneer Venus probe descending in the Venusian atmosphere, NASA illustration Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog pv_probe.jpg
Pioneer Venus probe descending in the Venusian atmosphere, NASA illustration
Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog

Pioneer 13, the Pioneer Venus Multiprobe mission, was launched 8 August 1978. On this mission, four instrumented atmospheric entry probes were carried by the spacecraft bus to the vicinity of Venus and released for descent through the atmosphere to the planetary surface. Two small probes entered on the night side, and one small probe and the large probe entered on the day side of the planet. During the 123 day trip to Venus, the large probe was released 16 November 1978, and the three small probes on 20 November. All four probes entered the Venusian atmosphere on 9 December, followed by the bus. The large probe took 1.5 hours to descend through the atmosphere, while the three smaller probes reached the surface of the planet 75 minutes after entry. The bus portion of the spacecraft was targeted to enter the Venusian atmosphere at a shallow entry angle and transmit data to Earth until it was destroyed by the heat of atmospheric friction during its descent. Investigators emphasized the study of the structure and composition of the atmosphere down to the surface, the nature and composition of the clouds, the radiation field and energy exchange in the lower atmosphere, and local information on the atmospheric circulation pattern. Simultaneous measurements by the probes and the Pioneer Venus Orbiter permitted relating specific local measurements to the general state of the planet and its environment as observed from orbit. The probes stopped transmitting temperature data about 15 km above the surface of Venus, but two probes survived on the surface and transmitted other data for a matter of seconds to minutes. The bus ceased transmitting data at an altitude of about 165 km.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1992 12:43:47 PST (GMT -8:00:00)
NASA's STS 53 (Discovery 15, Shuttle 52) landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, after the final Department of Defense (DoD) shuttle mission.

STS 53 was launched 2 December 1992. Liftoff was originally set for 6:59 AM EST, but was delayed to allow sunlight to melt ice on the external tank formed after tanking, due to overnight temperatures in the upper 40s (four degrees Celsius range) and the light wind. This was the first flight of Discovery after a scheduled extensive checkout and modification program performed at KSC following its return from STS 42 in February 1992.

This was the final Shuttle flight for the Department of Defense (DOD). The classified DOD payload was deployed on flight day one, after which flight activities became unclassified. Two cargo bay payloads and nine middeck experiments flew.

Secondary payloads contained in or attached to Get Away Special (GAS) hardware in cargo bay included Glow Experiment (GLO)/Cryogenic Heat Pipe Experiment (CRYOHP) and Orbital Debris Radar Calibration Spheres (ODERACS).

Middeck payloads: Battlefield Laser Acquisition Sensor Test (BLAST); Cloud Logic to Optimize Use of Defense Systems (CLOUDS); Cosmic Radiation Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM); Fluid Acquisition and Resupply Experiment (FARE); Hand-held, Earth-oriented, Real-time, Cooperative, User-friendly, Location-targeting and Environmental System (HERCULES); Microcapsules in Space-1 (MIS-1); Radiation Monitoring Experiment III (RME III); Space Tissue Loss (STL); Visual Function Tester-2 (VFT-2).

The STS 53 mission ended 9 December 1992 when Discovery landed on revolution 116 on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California. The landing was originally set for KSC, but was diverted due to clouds in the vicinity of the landing strip. The drag chute was deployed before the nosegear touched down. After landing, a small leak was detected in a forward thruster which delayed crew egress until a fan and winds dissipated the leaking gas. Rollout distance: 10,165 feet (3,098 meters). Rollout time: 73 seconds. Launch weight: 243,952 pounds. Landing weight: 193,215 pounds. Orbit altitude: 174 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 57 degrees. Mission duration: seven days, seven hours, 19 minutes, 47 seconds. Discovery was returned to KSC on 18 December 1992.

The STS 53 crew was: David M. Walker, Commander; Robert D. Cabana, Pilot; Guion S. Bluford, Mission Specialist 1; James S. Voss, Mission Specialist 2; Michael R. Clifford, Mission Specialist 3.
ref: www.nasa.gov

1994 19:30:00 GMT
Meteor 1994 XM1, estimated between 6.1m and 13.6m diameter, passed within 100,000 km of Earth approximately 14 hours after it was first discovered.
ref: www2.jpl.nasa.gov

Died, Guenther Hintze, rocket engineer, German expert in guided missles during World War II, member of the Rocket Team in the United States after the war
ref: www.washingtonpost.com

Japan's NOZOMI (PLANET-B) spacecraft failed to fire its thrusters as needed to orient the craft to go into orbit around Mars a few days later.

Nozomi (Japanese for Hope, and known before launch as Planet-B), launched 3 July 1998, was planned as a Mars orbiting aeronomy mission designed to study the Martian upper atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind, and to develop technologies for use in future planetary missions. Specifically, instruments on the spacecraft were to measure the structure, composition and dynamics of the ionosphere, aeronomy effects of the solar wind, the escape of atmospheric constituents, the intrinsic magnetic field, the penetration of the solar wind's magnetic field, the structure of the magnetosphere, and dust in the upper atmosphere and in orbit around Mars. The mission would have also returned images of Mars' surface.

The third stage and payload entered a 146 x 417 km x 31.1 deg parking orbit. The KM-V1 kick (fourth) stage then fired to place the spacecraft into a circumlunar 359 x 401491 km x 28.6 deg orbit. Nozomi made multiple Lunar and Earth gravity assist passes to increase its energy for solar orbit insertion and the cruise to Mars. The spacecraft used a Lunar swingby on 24 September and another on 18 December 1998 to increase the apogee of its orbit. It swung by Earth on 20 December at a perigee of about 1000 km. The gravitational assist from the swingby, coupled with a 7 minute burn of the bipropellant engine, put Nozomi into an escape trajectory towards Mars. It was scheduled to arrive at Mars on 11 October 1999 at 7:45:14 UT, but the Earth swingby left the spacecraft with insufficient acceleration, and two course correction burns on 21 December used more propellant than planned, leaving the spacecraft short of fuel. A new plan was developed for Nozomi to remain in heliocentric orbit for an additional four years, and encounter Mars at a slower relative velocity in December 2003. However, the attempt to fire its thrusters to orient the craft for a Mars orbit insertion burn failed on 9 December 2003. Smaller thrusters were successfully fired, Nozomi flew past Mars at a distance of 1000 km on 14 December 2003 and went into a heliocentric orbit with a period of roughly two years, after efforts to put the spacecraft into Martian orbit were abandoned.

See also nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov
ref: www.isas.jaxa.jp

Died, Yuri Nikolayevich Glazkov, Major General Russian AF, Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz 24; nearly 17d 17.5h in spaceflight)
ref: www.spacefacts.de

Died, Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, English astronomer, writer, president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and president of the Society for Popular Astronomy
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Two infrared cameras on JAXA's Akatsuki Venus probe failed, terminating 1- and 2-micron observations.

On 20 May 2010, JAXA launched its Akatsuki probe from the Tanegashima YLP-1 launch site at 21:58:22 UTC (21 May 2010 6:58:22 a.m. JST) toward Venus aboard an H-IIA 202 rocket, with infrared camera observations of cloud and surface imaging planned from orbit there. (A small solar power sail demonstration mission, Ikaros, was also carried aloft on the same launch.) Other experiments were included to confirm the presence of lightning, and to determine whether volcanism occurs currently on Venus. The primary objective was studying the complex Venusian meteorology caused by atmospheric super-rotation: On most planets, the atmosphere circulates much slower than the planet's rotation speed (Earth's fastest winds are only 10-20% of its rotation speed). However, Venus rotates at 6 km/h at the equator (its rotational period of 243 days is the slowest of the solar system's planets), but the atmosphere spins around the planet at 300 km/h at the cloud tops, winds move at up to 60 times the speed of its rotation.

Akatsuki was originally intended to conduct scientific research for two or more years from an elliptical orbit around Venus at an altitude ranging from 300 to 80,000 km (190 to 49,710 mi). However, instead of firing for 12 minutes during the orbit insertion burn starting at 8:49 a.m. 7 December 2010 JST (6 December 23:49 UTC, 6 December 6:49 p.m. EST), the probe's engines only fired for 152 seconds (2.5 minutes), the failure occurring when Akatsuki was behind Venus for 22 minutes from Earth's perspective. Analysis of the data indicated the likely cause of the malfunction was salt deposits jamming the valve between the helium pressurization tank and the fuel tank. As a result, the engine mixture became oxidizer-rich, resulting in high combustion temperatures that damaged the chamber's throat and nozzle. Since the burn was far short of what was needed to go into Venus orbit, Akatsuki ended up in a heliocentric one with an orbital period of 203 days. Where Venus orbits the Sun in 225 days, the probe returned to the vicinity of Venus in December 2015. During the intervening time, tests of the orbit maneuver engine (OME) showed it had insufficient specific impulse available for orbital maneuvers (thrust was only about 10% of what was expected), and a plan to use the four hydrazine attitude control thrusters of the reaction control system (RCS) to enter orbit was developed. Because the RCS thrusters don't use oxidizer, the remaining 65 kg of MON oxidizer was dumped overboard to lighten the spacecraft in October 2011. On 7 December 2015, the RCS thrusters were used to impart a total delta-v of 243.8 m/s to the spacecraft in a 20 minute burn, successfully placing the probe in a highly elliptical prograde orbit ranging from 440,000 km (270,000 mi) to 400 km (250 mi) above Venus' surface, with an orbital period of 13 days and 14 hours. A follow-up burn on 26 March 2016 lowered Akatsuki's apoapsis to about 330,000 km (210,000 mi) and shortened its orbital period from 13 to 9 days.

Akatsuki finally started its two year science mission in mid-May 2016. On 9 December 2016, two infrared cameras failed, terminating 1- and 2-micron observations.

Soon after insertion in December 2015 and in "a few glimmers in April and May" of 2016, Akatsuki's instruments recorded a "bow-shape feature in the atmosphere stretching 6,000 miles, almost pole to pole — a sideways smile" in the planet's winds above Aphrodite Terra, "a highland region about the size of Africa that rises up to three miles from the surface." Project scientists termed the feature a "gravity wave" but it is more likely simply a transient atmospheric phenomenon.

See also Wikipedia: Akatsuki (spacecraft)
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

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