July 3: Johan Andersson born, NASA comet mission launches, Benz first car drives, de l’Isle dies

Johan Andersson

Born 3 July 1874, Johan Gunnar Andersson, Swedish geologist and archaeologist.

Johan gunnar andersson
Credit: Unknown author – National Library of Norway, Public Domain

In 1914, Andersson became a consultant to the Geological Survey of China, where he stayed until 1924 and was involved in the excavations at Chou-k’ou-tien (Zhoukoudian) outside Peking (Beijing). In 1921, after finding some bits of quartz in a cave in the region, he predicted that a fossil man would be discovered. Six years later, the first evidence of the Sinanthropu (Peking Man) was found.


NASA comet nucleus mission

On this day in 2002, NASA launched CONTOUR (COmet Nucleus TOUR), an unmanned probe on a mission to get within 100 kilometres of a comet nucleus. The focus was to study frozen samples of the solar system from its infancy. Launched aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral, CONTOUR orbited the Earth until 15 August, when the craft’s solid propellant apogee engine fired, ostensibly to send it toward a 12 November 2003 encounter with Comet 2P/Encke. It was over the Indian Ocean and out of radio contact at the time, and was never heard from again. An investigation later determined CONTOUR had broken up during the engine burn.

Benz unveils the first car

And on this day in 1886, German inventor Karl Benz revealed to the public the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, the world’s first purpose-built automobile, on the Ringstrasse in Mannheim.

Benz patent-motorwagen
Credit: Public Domain

Jean-Baptiste de l’Isle

On 3 July we remember Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de l’Isle, French mineralogist and one of the creators of the field of crystallography, who died this day in 1790.

Jean-baptiste de l'isle
Credit: Public Domain


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