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What will happen in space in 2019

Last year, great strides were made in space exploration, and 2019 seems to be no less. From the mysterious objects of the Kuiper belt and Mars probes to fearless efforts to reach the sun, this is what the next 12 months will bring us.

New horizons will arrive at Ultima Thule

2019 will begin with the arrival of NASA's New Horizons probe at Ultima Tula, a mysterious Kuiper belt object, located 6.5 billion kilometers from the Sun. At 12:33 pm Eastern time 1 In January, the spacecraft will pass near Ultima-Tule at a speed of 50,700 kilometers per hour and take as many photos as possible with a resolution of 30 to 70 meters per pixel.

Artistic representation of the passage of the New Horizons, passing near Ultima Thule.
Illustration: NASA / Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwestern Research Institute

This will be the first time we fly over an object in the Kuiper belt. In the course of this approach, we will find out whether Ultima Thule is a close binary system, a contact binary system (in which two objects are together) or something completely different. An object — or objects — has a diameter of about 30 kilometers and has an irregular shape. Using its many on-board tools, New Horizons will also map the surface of an object to find out how it was formed, measure its surface temperature, find signs of a comet's activity (for example, melted ice) and a number of other things.

Rovers run on the moon

The moon should receive at least a couple of new visits of robots in 2019.

It is expected that the Chinese probe Chang & # 39; e 4, launched on December 8, 2018, will land on the surface of the hidden face of the Moon on January 3 or even earlier. It will land on the impact crater Von Karman, which is 180 kilometers wide and located in the southern hemisphere. Since it will be at the opposite end of the moon, CE-4 will communicate with the Earth via the Queqiao satellite in China, which was launched in May.

Conceptual image of the Chinese all-terrain vehicle on the moon. Image: NAOC

If successful, the mission will be the first soft landing and the first inspection of the hidden face of the moon, according to the National Science and Technology Administration of China. The descent vehicle and the six-wheeled vehicle will measure the temperature of the lunar surface, analyze stones and lunar dust, and study cosmic rays. The mission will also determine whether it is quiet enough in the region to build a space radio telescope that does not experience interference from human radio waves. The mission must last at least three months.

Chandrayan-2 prototype. Image: ISRO

At some point in the second half of 2019, India will launch its own lunar apparatus as part of the mission GSLV-F10 / Chandrayaan-2 of the Space Research Organization of India. The six-wheeled rover will land near the south pole of the moon, will observe the surface of the moon and transmit data to Earth. Above it, the Chandrayaan-2 satellite will collect scientific information about the lunar topography, minerals, and the almost non-existent lunar atmosphere, while also looking for signs of ice on its surface.

And who knows, maybe some of the teams participating in Lunar XPrize will get a rover to the moon, but it’s too early to know.

Hayabusa2 will collect samples from asteroid Ryugu

In the beginning of 2019, I hope, at the end of January, the Japanese Hayabusa2 will extract samples from the asteroid Ryugu surface. JAXA is still trying to find the perfect place to work for Hayabusa2, because in this huge space rock it’s hard to find even areas.

An incredible photograph of the asteroid Ryugu, taken on June 26 with the Hayabusa2 probe.
Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo and staff

In December 2019, the probe will take the latest samples and go back to Earth. If everything goes well, it will be the first time that a probe retrieves samples from an asteroid and returns them for analysis.

Commercial test flights finally

The NASA contract with Russia ends in April, so it is imperative that the space agency finds another way to deliver its astronauts to space. The private sector is one of the options under consideration, and 2019 is likely to be the year when the United States can finally return to the International Space Station on its own, which they could not do after the space shuttle program.

On January 17, SpaceX, together with the NASA crew’s commercial program, will test the Falcon 9 rocket to launch the Crew Dragon unmanned spacecraft on the ISS. If this test goes well, the manned mission can follow on 18 June. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Benken are selected for this mission.

Image: Boeing

In March, the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch the first Boeing CST-100 Starliner on the ISS, also without crew. According to NASA, follow-up trials with Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Eric Bo and Nicole Mann may take place in August.

Test launch rocket Blue Origin.
Image: Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin aerospace company is also expected to carry out manned and unmanned missions in 2019 on the New Shepard suborbital apparatus. Dates are not yet known.

Opportunity, could you call home?

The dangerous NASA unit has been without signals since June 10, when a global dust storm forced the probe into hibernation mode, from which it could not wake up.

Opportunity – a white dot in the center of the box.
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. Arizona

They tried to listen to the rover from the mission control center for a long time and scanned several frequencies thanks to the Deep Space Network radio (DNS), although they have not yet achieved success. NASA will continue to attempt over the next few months, but if Opportunity cannot contact the control center, they will have to cancel the mission in 15 years.

InSight probe pierces the surface of Mars

Opportunity news is not very good, but at least Curiosity is moving slowly but surely. Nor can we forget the NASA InSight probe, which landed on Mars in late November. The probe should start drilling the Martian surface in late January or early February.

Self from inSight. Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Members of the InSight team will complete the deployment of the seismograph in January and will begin to study Martian earthquakes. During this time, the probe will use its robotic arm to install the thermal probe. The mission goal is to improve our understanding of the formation of the planets and the internal geology of Mars. To do this, InSight will use its tools and measure seismic activity, temperature and air pressure.

Space diving

Get ready to see more and more picturesque photographs of Jupiter and the Sun, kindly provided by the probes of Juno and Parker.

Nice view on the clouds of Jupiter.
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran

NASA's Yunona spacecraft is planned to perform more periyovios in 2019 (periyovio is the closest orbital approach of the object to the center of Jupiter). The 18th Perionius of Juno will take place on February 17th, and on April 19th – April 6th. Juno has already given us extremely detailed pictures of the clouds of Jupiter, but the probe is getting closer and closer to the majestic gas giant.

Photo of the solar corona, taken by the Parker solar probe.
Photo: NASA / Naval Research Laboratory / Parker Solar Probe.

In the meantime, the Parker Solar Probe probe will continue its mission to “touch the Sun.” Its second and third perihelions (the nearest points of the orbit of a celestial body around the Sun) are scheduled for April 4 and September 1. On December 26th, the Parker probe will be attracted by the seriousness of Venus. These reconnaissance flights will lead to the emergence of important new data about the Sun, such as the nature of its corona and its ability to produce solar storms.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11

July 16, 2019 will be the 50th anniversary of landing on the Moon of Apollo 11. Therefore, over the next months you will be bombarded with news and reports about this in the media.

Coins dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.
Image: US Mint / NASA

Several events were planned to mark this historic milestone, including Apollopalooza 2019 (a celebration at the Rocky Aviation and Cosmonautics Museum in Denver), an Apollo Gala gala concert at the H. Kennedy and the Moon Summer Festival in Wapakoneta, Ohio. In addition, spectacular commemorative coins of the 50th anniversary of Apollo will be issued on January 24th.

Launch of the CHEOPS space telescope.

The European Space Agency plans to launch the CHEOPS space telescope at some point from October to November. Once in orbit, this space telescope will search for extrasolar planets, especially those between the Earth and Neptune.

Image: ESA

CHEOPS will take off with a Soyuz rocket and will orbit at an altitude of about 700 kilometers above the Earth. CHEOPS will use the motion detection method and scan the stars for signs of exoplanets passing in front of them.

Heavenly beauties

For all those who love to watch the sky, in 2019 there will be interesting astronomical phenomena.

A total lunar eclipse will be seen on January 21 in North America, South America, the Eastern Pacific Ocean, the Western Atlantic Ocean, and parts of Europe and Africa. On July 2, a total solar eclipse will be seen from the South Pacific and the central part of Chile and Argentina.

Image: NASA

Three supermoon will take place in 2019: January 21, February 19 and March 21. This will happen when the moon is closer to Earth, and our satellite will look a little bigger and brighter than usual.

June 10, Jupiter will be closest to Earth, and it will look big and bright. The same will happen with Uranus on October 27th.

On November 11, we will see the strange transit of Mercury through the Sun. This does not happen very often, and it will not happen until 2039. If you have a suitable sunscreen for your telescope, amateur astronomers can see the sun moving. Mercury in the Sun. It will be visible from the east of North America, Mexico, Central America, South America and parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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