On this day in science history: 22 May

From the days of ancient technology to modern science - find out what happened on this day in the history of science.

22nd May 2017
Damage from the 1960 Chile earthquake © Bettmann/Getty Images

Damage from the 1960 Chile earthquake © Bettmann/Getty Images

1960 – Most powerful earthquake ever recorded

An earthquake with magnitude 9.5 hits Southern Chile, near the city of Valdivia.

The Great Chilean Earthquake lasted around 10 minutes, with up to 6,000 people killed or injured, and 2,000,000 people left homeless.

It was caused by the Nazca tectonic plate being forced under the South American Plate in the Pacific Ocean, causing a megathrust earthquake. Most of the damage and casualties resulted from the subsequent tsunamis.

Can animals help us predict earthquakes?

1969 – Apollo 10 orbits the Moon

Apollo 10 Command ship in lunar orbit © UIG/Getty Images
Apollo 10 Command ship in lunar orbit © UIG/Getty Images

The Apollo Lunar Module flies within 8.4 nautical miles of the Moon’s surface, in dress rehearsal for Apollo 11 landing.

Launched on 18 May 1969, the eight-day Apollo 10 Mission tested all aspects of the Moon landing, save the landing itself. The Lunar Module, Snoopy, undocked from the Command Module, Charlie Brown, on 22 May. Snoopy then descended towards the intended landing site, to the point where powered descent would occur in the full Moon landing.

The Apollo 11 mission would later complete the moon landing on 20 July, 1969.

Listen: Apollo 10 astronauts hear “weird music on far side of Moon”

1995 – Hubble photographs two new moons of Saturn

© NASA
© NASA

Saturn’s rings being positioned edge-on to Earth allows the Hubble Space Telescope to photograph at least two new moons. Four potential new moons were spotted, but two were in orbits similar to satellites previously observed, so could in fact be the same.

The rarity of opportunities to photograph Saturn’s satellites means the moons are still unconfirmed. The chance arises when Earth crosses Saturn’s ring plane, which only occurs every 15 years. A ring plane crossing occurred in 2009, and will again in 2025, but Saturn’s proximity to the Sun on those dates means it is not possible to be observed from Earth.

Listen: Witness – how NASA fixed the Hubble Space Telescope

Discover more history of science

 


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