Despite some setbacks, space exploration continues to have great strength and interest. Every year we go a little further and understand a little more about the “last frontier”, and 2018 was no exception. During these past twelve months, we said goodbye to some of our favorite missions, we celebrated our anniversary, and we got a little closer to our neighbor, the planet Mars. Entering the new year, we present some of the most significant achievements in space exploration and the most important astronomical events of 2018.
60 years of NASA
Created in accordance with the National Aeronautics and Space Exploration Act of 1958, the space agency began its official activities on October 1, 1958. Since its inception, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has been a non-military activity aimed at exploring civil and scientific space, as well as research related to space.
NASA opened the way to space for both the United States and the world. Just 11 years after its foundation, the space agency reached the moon and finally sent 12 astronauts to the surface. In the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, the program was dedicated to the space shuttle, overseeing 135 missions that formed the basis of the International Space Station. More recently, the agency investigated the Sun, visited all the planets in our solar system, studied asteroids and comets, launched long-range telescopes, and even sent rovers to Mars.
In the future, NASA is expected to be the driving force that will deliver astronauts to the red planet. NASA plans to develop the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway, a small station that will serve as a launching pad for flights to the moon. The experience gained during these missions will help NASA along with its international and commercial partners take the next step to Mars.
PARKER PROBE AND ITS APPROACH TO THE SUN
In August 2018, NASA launched the Parker solar probe, a spacecraft designed to fly to the edge of the crown of our star to study the solar winds. These powerful explosions from blinding northern lights can also affect orbit satellites and their connection to Earth. Even from time to time, solar winds can be strong enough to interrupt global positioning systems (GPS) and high-frequency radio communications.
Scientists studying solar winds know very little about how they originated, and Parker's solar probe hopes to answer some of the most important questions by traveling to the external solar atmosphere, where it will take samples directly from solar particles and measure fields. magnetic. The probe will also measure the temperature of the Sun to help scientists understand how a relatively cold star, compared to others (6000 degrees Celsius), can form such a hot crown that it reaches millions of degrees Celsius.
INDEPENDENT TRAVEL ON MARS
At 14:50 on Monday, November 26, 2018, NASA InSight Lander successfully landed on the surface of Mars. These were seven risky minutes when the descent vehicle entered the thin atmosphere of Mars at hypersonic speeds and slowed down for a perfect landing. Immediately after this, InSight took his first selfie on the surface of the red planet.
Now that he is on Mars, InSight will be busy collecting geological data from the core to the crust. The descent vehicle will analyze various layers of the planet’s rock, measure the temperature of the planets, and generate data on the axis of the sphere. Scientists hope that we can better understand not only Mars, but also the Earth, its differences and similarities.
VIRGIN GALAXY ACHIEVED THE EDGE OF EXTERNAL SPACE
After the accident in 2014, which claimed the life of a pilot and caused a two-year break, Virgin Galactic returned with its plans to carry out commercial flights in space tourism. The company, supported by Sir Richard Branson, successfully completed four space missions in 2018. The last attempt in December reached 51 miles to reach the Karman line, or the boundary between the atmosphere and space, before returning to Earth on the way. safe, with a soft landing in the aerospace port of Mojave.
The data collected during the flight will be analyzed and used to improve the safety and effectiveness of future attempts. The next test flight will be used to simulate the weight of a commercial cargo, which is expected when the ship is full of passengers. Over 600 people purchased tickets to Virgin Galactic reusable spacecraft. Each ticket costs 250,000 dollars, but Branson hopes to reduce this price to 40 or 50 thousand dollars by one day.
SPACEX CONTINUES BOOKING ENTRIES
2018 was another exceptional year for SpaceX, and the company once again showed the world that reusable rockets are the way of the future. SpaceX made 20 launches in 2018, surpassing the record 18 launches in 2017. One of the last 64 satellites deployed in orbit, a record number of deployments for a single mission in the United States. The world record holder is the mission of the Indian Polar Rocket Carrier (PSLV), which deployed 104 satellites in February 2017.
SpaceX continues to amaze us with its reusable rockets. For the first time this year, the same driver that launched Falcon 9 was used for three different launches and landings. But the Falcon 9 rocket is not the only spacecraft in the SpaceX arsenal. The company also developed the Dragon capsule, a reusable freighter that made its first flight in December 2010. This is the first commercial vessel built and successfully operated and returning from orbit. Capsule continued successful completion missions for the International Space Station in 2018.
THE END OF THE MISSION OF THE DAIRY SHIP
NASA's Dawn Mission ended in 2018 after the spacecraft ran out of fuel. The Dawn spacecraft was launched in September 2007 and over 11 years of operation, overcame more than 4.3 billion miles (4.3 billion). The purpose of the mission was to study the dwarf planet Ceres and the giant asteroid West in the asteroid belt.
Images and data from the mission provided information on the origin of our solar system and how it could have developed in the early years. It also provided a close-up of the planet of the dwarves and a glance at the asteroid, which suggests that there was ice under this rocky surface. Now that its useful life has come to an end, the Dawn spacecraft will continue to rotate around the orbital planet Ceres.
LATEST IMAGES OF KOPLEROV SPACE TELESCOPE
After nine long years of exploration of deep space in search of new horizons, the Kepler space telescope finally exhausted its fuel supply and in 2018 released its latest images. Interestingly, it was designed to work only for three and a half years, but continued to work a lot over the deadline thanks to NASA scientists who supported him for another five years.
This telescope leaves no doubt a great legacy. During this time, Kepler collected data on thousands of planets outside our solar system, and a large amount of this new information is now available to the general public.