space stories

The 1,700 pound sensor that makes up the wide-angle eye of the VLT Survey Telescope (aka VST) is exactly like the sensor in your digital camera. Except, you know, bigger. A lot bigger. We're talking an array of 32 individual CCD sensors that together take 268 megapixels worth of images of outer space. Meet OmegaCam.
Whether or not they get their electricity from solar panels, satellites still need fuel to keep themselves from eventually crashing back to Earth in an apocalyptic fireball that might, but probably won't, land right on your head. The only way to extend their lifespan is with in-flight refueling, and a new gas station on the ISS might make that possible.
On June 14, 1967 the Mariner 5 spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, FL. Originally constructed as a backup, it was repurposed for a Venus flyby after Mariner 4 successfully completed its mission. Four months after takeoff, Mariner 5 got about 2,500 miles from Venus and came closer to the Sun than any previous probe.