Video: STS-114 does a backflip for inspection (July 2005)This grand mosaic consists of 126 images acquired in a tile-like fashion, covering one end of Saturn's rings to the other and the entire planet in between. The images were taken over the course of two hours on Oct. 6, 2004, while Cassini was approximately 6.3 million kilometers from Saturn. Three images (red, green and blue) were taken of each of 42 locations, or "footprints," across the planet. The full color footprints were put together to produce a mosaic that is 8,888 pixels across and 4,544 pixels tall. The smallest features seen here are 38 kilometers across. Many of Saturn's splendid features noted previously in single frames taken by Cassini are visible in this one detailed, all-encompassing view: subtle color variations across the rings, the thread-like F ring, ring shadows cast against the blue northern hemisphere, the planet's shadow making its way across the rings to the left, and blue-grey storms in Saturn's southern hemisphere to the right. Tiny Mimas and even smaller Janus are both faintly visible at the lower left.Gemini 7 as seen from Gemini 6A"OK, let's change the tires!" - Pistol Grip Tool in use.Discovery showing it's belly on STS-114 (July. 2005)View of the Flight Directors console in the Mission Control Center (MCC), Houston, Texas, during the Gemini 5 flight. Seated at the console are Eugene F. Kranz (foreground) and Dr. Christopher C. Kraft Jr. (background). Standing in front of the console are Dr. Charles Berry (left), an unidentified man in the center and astronaut Elliot M. See. (8/21/1965)Discovery hits bird on STS-114 (July. 2005)

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Explanation: On April 12, 1981, twenty years ago today, the Space Shuttle Columbia became the first shuttle to orbit the Earth. In this gorgeous time exposure, flood lights play on the Columbia and service structures (left) as it rests atop Complex 39's Pad A at Kennedy Space Center in preparation for first launch. Flown by Commander John W. Young and Pilot Robert L. Crippen, Columbia spent 2 days aloft on its check-out mission, STS-1, which ended in a smooth landing, airplane-style, at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Ferried back to Kennedy by a modified Boeing 747, Columbia was launched again seven months later on STS-2, becoming the first piloted reuseable orbiter. The oldest operating shuttle, Columbia's 1981 debut was followed by shuttles Challenger in 1982 (destroyed in 1986), Discovery in 1983, Atlantis in 1985, and Challenger's replacement Endeavour in 1991. This shuttle fleet has now accomplished over 100 orbital missions. Today also marks the 40th anniversary of the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin.

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