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15 outstanding achievements and spatial curiosity of 2018

Conclude a very productive year for the aerospace industry and space agents around the world They launched a mission to explore several planets in our Solar System, as well as our Sun.

Also a space tourism company made its first orbital flight and even the strongest of rockets was launched after the Saturn V myth that brought humans to the Moon, and that as a cargo he carried astronaut maneuvers and sports cars into the orbit of Martians

1) Saocom: Argentina's radar satellite that was only successfully built by Japan before

Weighing 3 tons and made entirely in this country, SAOCOM, the last Argentine satellite was launched in October with success. The device, which is a satellite network with four other Italian satellites, will function to produce an early warning system for floods, develop a map of plant disease risks, monitor the Argentine sea against illegal fishing, and also to support the management of environmental emergencies.

An internationally recognized milestone is that there is no experience in Argentina in the construction of L-band polarimetry radar instruments, with very large 35-meter antennas and a lot of sensitivity in integration hand-welded.

Framed in the National Space Plan, SAOCOM 1A (Argentine Observation Satellite with Microwaves) was developed and built by the National Space Activities Commission (CONAE) together with companies and organizations such as INVAP, VENG and the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA)), with participation around 80 technology companies and state-technology scientific systems institutions and collaborations from the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

2) NASA's InSight spacecraft lands on Mars

NASA's last mission to Mars was Curiosity explorer, which landed in 2012 (and is still active on Mount Sharp). The space agency also plans to send other explorers by 2020. The arrival of InSight is highly celebrated by scientists, because a leak on the ship's seismometer forced a two-year delay from the launch date originally scheduled for 2016.

3) Launch of the canceled Soyuz crew

The Soyuz spacecraft took off from Kazakhstan but never reached the International Space Station

The two men made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan in a safe and healthy manner. Hague and Ovchinin appeared in good physical condition and were soon promised another effort for space flight.
Roscosmos (Russian space agency) quickly concluded an investigation and implemented a solution to keep the space station uninhabitable.

So, he scheduled the 58th Expedition launch, which lasted three weeks (December 3) to allow the team to orbit home on time. The space station's activities will resume normal rotation, but for now, the crew will consist mainly of three people, not six. Hague and Ovchinin will finally fly on February 28, 2019.

4) Parker Solar Probe is launched to "touch" the sun

One of the main mysteries of our star is why the crown is so hot. The temperature there ranges between 1 million and 3 million degrees Celsius. Scientists suspect that solar convection and magnetic fields contribute to high corona temperatures, but they need observations to support the theory.

The mission paid homage to pioneering astrophysicists at the University of Chicago, Eugene Parker, who predicted the solar wind (a constant flow of solar particles) in 1950. Parker, 91, who attended the rocket launch brought She was the first living person to have a NASA mission named after him.

5) SpaceX Falcon Heavy and its extraordinary debut

Private company SpaceX launched its biggest rocket into space with a smart public relations campaign that attracted the attention of people around the world.

Falcon Heavy was launched on February 6, 2018 and quickly revealed a prize for those who watched the live broadcast: its main cargo was a model named "Starman", who drove a Tesla X roadster (award for one of the other SpaceX companies, Elon Musk). The top stage of the rocket fires cars and passengers into space, directly into Mars's orbit.

This launch went viral throughout the world and produced a lot of hope in the big throw market, which is very profitable, because it includes military satellites and the ability to launch scientific content to other planets on relatively short trips.

SpaceX and Musk are great defenders of Mars exploration, so they developed new and giant combinations of spacecraft to attract settlers in the coming decades.

6) TESS, about hunting extrasolar planets

NASA's search to find another Earth gained momentum on April 18, when the Exoplanet satellite in Transit (TESS) carried out a flawless launch on its way to space.

Unlike previous satellites, TESS was designed to search for planets near stars in our own environment. Finding planets close to Earth offers several advantages, such as allowing other telescopes to quickly focus on this world to learn more about the composition of the atmosphere. TESS will also act as a pioneering observatory for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched in 2021 on a scientific mission that will include several exoplanet studies.

TESS was placed in a unique and very elliptical orbit for 13.7 days which saw it approaching relatively close to Earth (108,000 kilometers) to send data to the house before flying again to 373,000 km to make scientific observations. He will explore the entire sky during his two-year main mission, although scientists hope that in his stable orbit he can last longer. The discovery of the first planet from the investigation was announced on September 19: a super-Earth in evaporation.

7) Chinese landing launchers on the other side of the month

China, which captivated the world with the lunar robot robot mission in 2013, is trying to reach another month's milestone: landing on the other side. The Chang spacecraft 'e 4 flew on December 7 in an attempt to land a plow and stationary vehicle in early January. The goal is the Crater of Von Kármán, which has a width of 115 miles (186 km). This crater is part of the largest complex in the South-Aitken South Pole Basin, which covers 2,500 miles (2,500 km).

The far side of the moon is not visible from Earth and, in fact, was not even photographed until the first Soviet satellites orbited the moon in the sixties. Landing there presents another challenge because there is no way to communicate information to Earth without relay satellites. Then, China sent a satellite called Queqiao in May, which is at a gravitationally stable point in space called Lagrange Point 2 on Earth and the Moon. At this place, outside of the moon, satellites can send information to and from Chang 'e 4 and Control missions on earth.

8) Goodbye to Kepler and Dawn

NASA announced on October 30 that its noble planet-hunting telescope, Kepler, had run out of fuel, had worked far beyond the life of its original scientific mission. It was an extraordinary journey that produced 70 percent of the 3,800 foreign worlds confirmed to date.

Kepler spent the first four years in space (2009 to 2013) observing a patch of sky in the constellation Cygnus, an investigation that produced 2,327 discoveries of exoplanets confirmed to date.

After the second of the four pointing devices failed, NASA found an innovative way to keep Kepler running; The ship uses the pressure of the Sun to remain stable in space and study various sectors of the sky from time to time. This new K2 mission (which lasts four years) not only produces knowledge of more extrasolar planets, but also studies of comets, asteroids, supernovae, and other phenomena.

Dawn was launched in September 2007 and reached Vesta in July 2011. There, he stayed for 14 months examining the asteroid surface; among his many discoveries it was found that liquid water (from the impact of meteorites) once flowed on the surface. Fajar's second and final destination was Ceres, where the probe found many bright spots: salt left behind after ground water left the Ceres surface and evaporated into space. Dawn is expected to remain in orbit around Ceres for at least 20 years.

9) Hayabusa2 from Japan arrives at Ryugu

After more than three years of space travel, the Japanese ship Hayabusa2 arrived at Ryugu asteroid on June 27 and quickly began work. The goal of Hayabusa2 is to return asteroid samples to Earth, as did the original Hayabusa spacecraft almost a decade ago. But first, Hayabusa2 dropped on Ryugu two inventors and landers, who sent pictures from strange surfaces.

At the end of September, Hayabusa2 deployed two small asteroid hoppers powered by solar energy now known as HIBOU and OWL. (HIBOU stands for "Very Smart Observation Unit Rebound"; "Hibou" is also "owl" in French.) OWL stands for "Observation Unit with Smart Wheel Movement.") It is hoped that together they will provide a lot of information about Ryugu's history and composition. Hayabusa2 still has other plows on board that must be deployed next year.

10) NASA's OSIRIS-REx arrived at Bennu's asteroid

OSIRIS-REx ("Origin, Spectral Interpretation, Skill Identification, Security, skilled Regolith Explorers") arrives at the asteroid destination on December 3: Bennu's space is 500 meters wide. Finally, OSIRIS-REx will fall to the surface of Bennu to collect samples to send it to Earth. But first, scientists take the time to get to know asteroids and their environment before choosing a place to land.

The spacecraft has a very complete mission for the next few months, with the first milestone entering safe orbit on December 31. Over the past few weeks, mission managers have not only learned the purpose of teasing Bennu, but also finding out how spacecraft will prepare for orbit. OSIRIS-REx has conducted three studies of Bennu in mid-December, which cover about 30 percent of the asteroid's surface in some detail.

11) Holes on the International Space Station

On August 29, mission control monitors of the International Space Station saw a slight drop in air pressure, divers who returned quickly to the 2-millimeter hole in the Soyuz spacecraft attached to the orbiting complex. The leak was never really dangerous, but cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev (after consulting with mission controllers in the US and Russia) quickly clogged the problem area with epoxy, a solution that seemed to be effective to solve with the problem

To be sure, on December 11, two Russian cosmonauts (Prokopyev and Oleg Kononenko) ventured into space to tear the outer layer of Soyuz with knives and scissors and examine the solution, including collecting epoxy samples for further analysis. .

The hole was in a part of the spacecraft that was not used to re-enter, so it did not represent a danger to astronauts returning from Expedition 56.

The cause of the hole has not been fully clarified, although reports show that it was a manufacturing error that occurred when Soyuz was being built in Russia. Full investigations and reports must be completed by 2019.

12) Voyager 2 reaches interstellar space

One of the most famous NASA spacecraft reached the cosmic milestone on November 5, when Voyager 2 crossed the line to interstellar space, a place where the influence of the sun gave way to other stars. This is not the first NASA spacecraft to do it; The twin probe, Voyager 1, arrived in the interstellar space in 2012. Therefore, Voyager 2 now provides another data point on how the transition zone between heliopause (the Sun environment) and interstellar space work.

The arrival was only the final milestone for a long-duration spacecraft, which was launched in 1977 on a "big tour" of outer planets. This is the only NASA spacecraft that advances through four large outer planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and their findings are numerous, including that these four planets have ring characteristics. Plutonium supplies from spacecraft will start running out in a few years, forcing the instrument to close until it is calm in 2025, said the mission team members.

13) Virgin Galactic reaches space

The space tourism market reached a milestone on December 13 when Virgin Galactic, which had worked to bring people into space for a decade and a half, finally saw a crew of two pilot pilots reaching a height of 82.7 km. , right after the US Air Force space demarcation line.

Hundreds of people have deposited a lot of money to fly to the suborbital space with Virgin Galactic. The last ticket price is $ 250,000. Virgin persisted in its plans for space flight through many delays in development, most notably the design changes implemented after a fatal accident from the previous test vehicle, VSS Enterprise, during test flights supported by rockets.

14) BepiColombo launches Mercury

Mercury has several years to prepare for the arrival of a new space mission. This is about the mission with BepiColombo which was formed between Europeans and Japanese who left on October 19. The spacecraft will travel for 7 years around the Solar System, increasing speed with planet overflight to Earth and Venus, before entering Mercury's orbit in 2025. The only mission that has orbit Mercury so far is NASA's Messenger, so BepiColombo will provide new look that is closer to the planet closest to the Sun.

No doubt, the next seven years will still be occupied by scientists. For example, BepiColombo will take precise measurements of Earth's orbit and Mercury to find where the general theory of relativity can fail. In addition, two BepiColombo spacecraft will do several overflight (six from Mercury, two from Venus and one from Earth), providing many opportunities to configure instruments on board, and look for something new or interesting on the surface of the planet.

15) Cubesats leaps into space exploration

The start of the Rocket Lab space flight got a big boost in 2018, launching its first operational mission on November 10 and the second on December 16. In this latest flight, Rocket Lab's electron boosters launched 13 small satellites for NASA that reached their target of 500 km of orbit on earth. There, satellites carry out various missions, from measuring radiation to testing the use of 3D print rockets.

The California-based company aims to increase access to space by launching small cubes and other satellites to orbit frequently and economically. But the cube makes waves even outside the Earth. When the InSight mission was launched in May this year, it was accompanied by two of the first Cubosats to leave Earth's orbit. WALL-E and EVE (because of two nickname sized spacecraft) helped to send InSight local data when the vehicle made its Mars landing.

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