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This Month in Exploration - July
Visit "This Month in Exploration" every month to find out how aviation and space exploration have changed throughout the years, improving life for humans on Earth and in space. While reflecting on the events that led to NASA's formation and its rich history of accomplishments, "This Month in Exploration" will also reveal where the agency is leading us -- to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Louis Bleriot and his monoplane 100 Years Ago

July 11, 1907: Aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot started flying his Langley-type tractor monoplane, called the "Libellule." The aircraft's wings were covered in paper, and it was powered by an Antoinette 24 horsepower engine. The longest distance it flew was 492 feet.

Image left: Louis Bleriot and his monoplane. Credit: D. Lam/R. Cooper

75 Years Ago

July 26, 1932: The Boeing Model 247, the first modern passenger airliner, received its patent. This all-metal, twin-engine aircraft flew at 189 miles per hour and had many advanced features including an autopilot and retractable landing gear.

70 Years Ago

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July 2, 1937: Less than a month before her 40th birthday, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared while attempting to fly around the world. Their custom-built Lockheed Model 10E Electra was last seen over the Nukumanu Islands of Papua New Guinea, approximately 22,800 miles into their 29,000 mile trip. The plane was never recovered.

50 Years Ago

July 1, 1957: This date marked the beginning of the International Geophysical Year (IGY), an international effort to study multiple fields of Earth science including solar phenomena, oceanography and seismology. During this period, which lasted until December 31, 1958, the Soviet Union successfully launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. The IGY also resulted in the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts.

International Geophysical Year stamp Image left: A stamp released by the U.S. during the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year. The image shows intense solar activity, with a segment of Michaelangelo's fresco "The Creation of Adam" above the sun. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

30 Years Ago

July 14, 1977: Japan's National Space Development Agency, in conjunction with NASA, launched the Geostationary Meteorological Satellite (GMS) 1 as a contribution to the international Global Atmospheric Research Program. This satellite helped predict weather patterns and was operational for almost five years.

25 Years Ago

July 16, 1982: NASA launched Landsat 4, a satellite used to monitor Earth's resources, including food, water, minerals and petroleum. This satellite carried Thematic Mapper (TM) imaging sensors to provide advanced remote sensing capabilities.

Martian surface 15 Years Ago

July 31, 1992: NASA launched Space Shuttle Atlantis to begin the 49th shuttle mission. The crew deployed the European Space Agency's European Retrievable Carrier (EURECA), a satellite used to study microgravity, the sun and material technology.

Image right: Twin peaks on Martian surface. Credit: T. Parker, NASA/JPL-Caltech

10 Years Ago

July 4, 1997: After seven months in flight, Mars Pathfinder landed on the red planet. The spacecraft delivered Sojourner, the first Mars rover, to the planet's surface to explore the terrain, take pictures and analyze soil composition.

Five Years Ago

July 30, 2002: In Australia, the University of Queensland's Hyshot team launched the Terrier-Orion, completing their first successful test of a scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet). The scramjet engine uses oxygen from the atmosphere and gaseous hydrogen for combustion.

enhanced Zero Gravity Locomotion Simulator (eZLS) Present Day

July 19, 2007: The Cassini spacecraft detects the 60th moon orbiting Saturn. This tiny world is about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) wide and made up mostly of ice and rock. It is the fifth moon discovered by the Cassini imaging team.

Image left: The enhanced Zero Gravity Locomotion Simulator (eZLS) treadmill. Credit: NASA

July 2007: Test subjects are running on the enhanced Zero Gravity Locomotion Simulator (eZLS), a treadmill that can simulate the levels of gravity present in orbit, on the moon and on Mars. The simulator is located in NASA Glenn Research Center's Exercise Countermeasures Laboratory, a unique facility that allows researchers to examine the effects of microgravity on locomotion, bone mass and muscle mass.

This research will help scientists to develop effective exercise regimens for astronauts working on the lunar surface and traveling to Mars.

Emily Groh (Analex Corporation)

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