Unforgettable moments of 2022 in space exploration

Unforgettable moments of 2022 in space exploration

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This year, humanity glimpsed the universe in a way never before possible, and space missions took unprecedented steps forward in unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos.

We witnessed the first mission to the International Space Station fully funded by space tourists. A new space-based Internet service played a key role in the Ukraine war. And there were historic launches of spacecraft and technology by NASA and its international partners that could one day be used to land humans on Mars.

“There is no doubt that 2022 was out of this world,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “2022 will go down in the history books as one of the most accomplished years in all of NASA’s missions.”

Here are some of the unforgettable space discoveries and moments of 2022.

After years of preparation, NASA finally got theirs last lunar exploration program from the ground with an unmanned test flight that carried an astronaut-worthy spacecraft around the Moon.

The mission was full of great moments. The rocket that launched the mission, the Space Launch System, or SLS, became the most powerful rocket ever to reach orbit, with 15 percent more thrust than the Saturn V rockets behind it of the Apollo program.

Arriving in space, the Orion capsule, which flew empty except for a few test dummies, captured stunning images of Earth and the Moon. And Orion’s orbital path swung further to the far side of the moon than any spacecraft designed to carry humans has traveled before.

The test has paved the way for future Artemis missions, aiming to return humans to the lunar surface before charting a path for the first human spaceflight to Mars.

In collaboration with international space agencies, NASA not only advanced its human exploration program, but also made strides in scientific endeavors. After decades of waiting, the The James Webb Space Telescope finally began observing the universe in July.

The James Webb Space Telescope captured this image of the spiral galaxy IC 5332.

Since then, the world’s most powerful space observatory has looked into his eyes planetsstars and galaxies in infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye.

The telescope has spied unseen aspects of the universe and previously hidden features, including the most distant galaxies ever observed. Webb has also shared new perspectives on some of astronomy’s favorite cosmic features and captured them in a new light, including the Pillars of Creation.

The images from the telescope have already gone beyond what astronomers expected, and the best news: Webb is just getting started.

The Webb Telescope, however, was not the only space observatory that expanded our understanding of deep space. The The Hubble Space Telescope spied the most distant star ever observed, glimmering faintly 28 billion light-years away.. The star existed only 900 million years after the Big Bang created the universe, and its light has traveled nearly 13 billion years to reach Earth.

Astronomers named the star Earendel, derived from an Old English word meaning “morning star” or “rising light.”

Meanwhile, astronomers used the Event Horizon Telescope to capture one image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy for the first time. This first direct observation confirmed the presence of the black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, as the beating heart of the Milky Way.

While black holes do not emit light, the shadow of the cosmic object was surrounded by a bright ring: light bent by the black hole’s gravity.

By the end of September, NASA was successful completed the first test mission for planetary defense. The space agency crashed a spaceship into Dimorphosa small asteroid orbiting a larger space rock called Didymos, and yes, the collision was intentional. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, it was a large-scale demonstration of deflection technology.

The rocky surface of Dimorphos was the last thing DART saw before it crashed into the asteroid.

Neither Dimorphos nor Didymos pose a threat to Earth, but the system was a perfect target for testing a technique that could one day be used to protect the planet from an asteroid strike.

The DART mission marked the first time that humanity intentionally changed the motion of a celestial object in space. The the spacecraft altered the orbit of the moon asteroid in 32 minutes.

And that’s not all 2022 has to offer when it comes to studying unusual objects in the sky. In June, NASA announced that it would be delving into the mysteries surrounding unidentified aerial phenomena, better known as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. The space agency later selected a team of experts across numerous disciplines, including astrobiology, data science, oceanography, genetics, politics, and planetary science, for the task.

NASA officials are not suggesting that extraterrestrials may be responsible for these phenomena. The goal is just to take a serious look at the still unexplained, but much publicly debated topic of UAPs and how they might be studied through a scientific lens.

“Without access to an extensive data set, it is nearly impossible to verify or explain any observations, so the goal of the study is to inform NASA what possible data could be collected in the future to scientifically discern the nature of the UAP,” according to a NASA press release.

Meanwhile, on the red planet, the InSight lander mission came to the end because of a leftover dust on your solar panels (i no swirls to vacuum), but the stationary spacecraft made history in 2022. InSight detected the largest earthquake on Mars and captured the sounds of space rocks colliding the planet — that they created craters that revealed underground ice treasures.

NASA's InSight lander acquired this image of the area in front of the spacecraft on Mars on Dec. 11.

As InSight winds down, rover companion Perseverance has continued to reach the Martian skies, beyond its original five-flight mission. The The Ingenuity helicopter broke its own altitude record and has made 37 flights to the red planet since April 2021. The small helicopter has acted as Perseverance’s aerial probe, collecting an incredible diversity of Martian rock and sediment samples.

Now, the rover is installing a reservoir of samples that will be stored on the Martian surface. The samples will be retrieved and returned to Earth in 2033 through the ambitious Mars Sample Return program, which send a lander and a duo of recovery helicopters to the red planet later this decade.

Speaking of space rocks, a rare specimen traveled to Earth in 2014. But scientists just put their puzzle pieces together this year, and the discovery was announced in a US Space Command paper.

The first known interstellar meteor to hit Earth crashed off the northeast coast of Papua New Guinea in January 2014.

Interstellar meteors are originated space rocks from outside our solar system, such as ʻOumuamua, the first known interstellar object in our solar system that was detected in 2017.

To be sure, NASA has had many successes this year, but it has also faced reminders of tragedy and disaster. Investigators set out in March to search for suspected wreck sites in the Bermuda Triangle, a swath of the North Atlantic Ocean said to be the site of dozens of shipwrecks and plane crashes, for a television broadcast. docuseries But the crew stumbled upon something unexpected elsewhere on Florida’s east coast: a 20-foot-long piece of debris from the space shuttle Challenger, which broke up. shortly after takeoff in 1986 and killed all seven crew members on board.

Divers discovered a missing piece of the space shuttle Challenger while exploring the ocean floor off Florida's east coast.

It was the first piece of debris to be discovered since pieces of the shuttle landed on Earth in 1996.

“This discovery gives us an opportunity to pause once again, to elevate the legacy of the seven pioneers we lost and to reflect on how this tragedy changed us,” NASA Administrator Nelson. he said in a statement. “At NASA, the core value of safety is, and must forever remain, our highest priority, especially as our missions explore more of the cosmos than ever before.”

When Russia launched its invasion in February and parts of Ukraine lost Internet access, a space-based Internet system that barely existed a few years ago began providing crucial connectivity.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX designed and launched the system, called Starlink. It makes use of thousands of small satellites that orbit a few hundred miles above the Earth. The satellites work together to cover the world in internet connectivity, and all it takes to connect is an easy-to-use Starlink satellite dish.

Musk and SpaceX sent thousands of these saucers to Ukraine. Although a A funding controversy later arosethe use of Starlink in the Eastern European country was hailed as a game changer in strategic communication for their military, allowing Ukraine to fight effectively, even as the ongoing war disrupted mobile phone networks and the Internet.

Starlink, however, is a small part of SpaceX’s booming business. The company routinely launches not only satellites, but also astronauts into space on behalf of NASA. And this year, SpaceX even flew a few rich thrill-seekers to the International Space Station in a mission mediated by Axiom. The event marked the first ever space station mission fully paid for by paying customers and only includes private citizens.

Shown is the AX-1 crew (from left): Larry Connor, Michael Lopez-Joy, Mark Pathy, Michael Lopez-Joy and Eytan Stibbe.

There were four crew members. Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut turned Axiom employee, was the mission commander. And the three paying clients were Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe, Canadian investor Mark Pathy and Ohio-based real estate mogul Larry Connor.

The mission, called AX-1, launched on April 8 and was originally billed as a 10-day trip. Delays, however, extended the mission by about a week.

Allowing private missions to the space station is part of NASA’s plan for more commercial activity in low Earth orbit as it focuses on deep space exploration.

#Unforgettable #moments #space #exploration

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