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What will happen in space during 2019

Last year there was tremendous progress in space exploration, and 2019 seems no less. From mysterious Kuiper belt objects and Mars probes to brave attempts to reach the Sun, this will be carried by the next 12 months.

New Horizons will arrive at Ultima Thule

The year 2019 will begin with the arrival of NASA's New Horizons vehicle to Ultima Thule, a mysterious Kuiper Belt object located 6.5 billion kilometers from the Sun. At 12:33 Eastern Time on 1 In January, the spacecraft will pass near Ultima Thule with speeds reaching 50,700 kilometers per hour, taking as many photos as possible, with a resolution of 30 to 70 meters per pixel.

New Horizons artistic probe probe passes near Ultima Thule.
Illustration: NASA / Johns Hopkins / Southwest Research Institute Applied Physics Laboratory

This will be the first time we fly over objects in the Kuiper belt. During this approach, we will learn if Ultima Thule is a close binary system, a binary contact (where two objects are together) or something completely different. Objects – or objects – are about 30 kilometers in diameter and have an irregular shape. Using many instruments on board, New Horizons will also map the surface of the object to learn how it is formed, measure its surface temperature, look for signs of comet activity (such as melting ice), and several other things.

Rover running around the Moon

The moon must receive at least some new robot visits by 2019.

It is hoped that the China Chang investigation 'e 4, which was launched on December 8, 2018, will land on the face of the moon's hidden face on January 3, or even earlier. This will land in the impact crater of Von Kármán, which is 180 kilometers wide and is located in the southern hemisphere. Because it will be at the end of the month, CE-4 will communicate with Earth via Queqiao satellite in China, which was launched in May.

Conceptual images of Chinese plows on the moon. Image: NAOC

If successful, the mission will be the first soft landing and the first inspection on the face of a hidden moon, according to the China National Science and Technology Office. Landers and six-wheeled vehicles will measure the temperature of the moon's surface, analyze the rocks and dust of the moon, and study cosmic rays, among others. The mission will also determine whether the area is quiet enough to build space radio telescopes that do not experience interference from human radio waves. The mission must last at least three months.

A prototype from Chandrayaan-2. Image: ISRO

At some point during the second half of 2019, India will launch its own lunar vehicle as part of the GSLV-F10 / Chandrayaan-2 Mission from the Organization for Indian Space Research. The six-wheel explorer will land near the south pole of the Moon, observe the surface of the moon and send data to Earth. On top of that, the Chandrayaan-2 satellite will gather scientific information about the moon's topography, minerals and the atmosphere of the moon that are almost non-existent, while looking for signs of ice on its surface.

And who knows, maybe some teams participating in Lunar XPrize get explorers to the Moon, but it's still too early to find out.

Hayabusa2 will collect samples from Ryugu asteroids

At some point in early 2019 – hopefully by the end of January – Hayabusa2 Japan will extract samples from the surface of the Ryugu asteroid. JAXA is still trying to find the perfect place for Hayabusa2 to do its job, because it is difficult to find flat areas on this large space rock.

An extraordinary photo of the Ryugu asteroid, taken on June 26 by the vehicle Hayabusa2.
Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo and collaborators

In December 2019, the probe will take its final sample and begin its journey back to Earth. If everything goes well, this will be the first time a probe has extracted a sample from an asteroid and brought it back for analysis.

Commercial test flight, finally

NASA's contract with Russia ended in April, so it is very important that the space agency find another way to bring astronauts into space. The private sector is one of the options considered, and 2019 seems to be the year in which the United States will eventually be able to return to the International Space Station itself, something that cannot be done since the space shuttle program.

On January 17, SpaceX, along with NASA's commercial crew program, will test the Falcon 9 rocket to launch an unmanned Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS. If this test goes well, manned missions can follow it on June 18. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were selected for this mission.

Image: Boeing

In March, the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch the first Starliner Boeing CST-100 to the ISS, also without crew. Subsequent tests with Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Mann can take place in August, according to NASA.

Origin of Blue rocket launch test.
Image: Blue Origin

It is also hoped that the aerospace company Blue Origin, by Jeff Bezos, will carry out a manned and unmanned mission in 2019 with its New Shepard suborbital vehicle. The dates are still unknown.

Opportunity, can you call home?

NASA's piracy opportunities have been without signals since June 10, when a global dust storm caused the probe to enter hibernation mode from where it could not wake up.

Opportunity is the white dot in the middle of the box.
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. Arizona

From the mission control center they have been trying to listen to the plow for a long time and have scanned several frequencies, thanks to the recipient of the Space Science Radio from DNS, although so far they have not succeeded. NASA will continue to try for the next few months, but if Opportunities fail to communicate with the control center, they must cancel the mission after 15 years.

The InSight probe penetrates the surface of Mars

The news we have about Opportunity is not good, but at least Curiosity moves slowly but surely. We also cannot forget the NASA investigation, which landed on Mars in late November. The probe must begin drilling the surface of Mars in late January or early February.

Selfie from inSight. Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Members of the InSight team will complete the deployment of seismographs in January and begin studying the Mars earthquake. During this time, the probe will use its robotic arm to place a hot probe. The purpose of this mission is to enhance our understanding of planet formation and the internal geology of Mars. For this reason, InSight will use its instruments and measure seismic activity, temperature and air pressure.

Space diving

Prepare to see more beautiful photos of Jupiter and the Sun, which come from the investigation of Juno and Parker.

Glorious views on Jupiter's clouds spin.
Photos: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran

NASA's Juno spacecraft is scheduled to do more perijovios by 2019 (perijovio is the closest orbital approach from an object to the center of Jupiter). The Juno 18th Perijovium will take place on February 17, and April 19 on April 6. Juno has given us extraordinary photos of the Jupiter cloud, but the vehicle is getting closer and closer to the great gas giant.

The solar crown taken by Parker Solar Probe
Photo: NASA / Naval Research Laboratory / Parker Surya Probe.

Meanwhile, the Parker Solar Probe investigation will continue its mission of "touching the Sun". The second and third perihelions (the closest point of the orbit of celestial bodies around the Sun) are scheduled for April 4 and September 1. On December 26, Parker's investigation will be interested in Venus's severity. This reconnaissance flight will produce new important data about the Sun, such as the nature of the corona and its ability to produce solar storms.

Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11

On July 16, 2019 will be the 50th anniversary of the landing of the Apollo 11 month. So during the following months you will be bombarded with news and reports about it in the media.

Coins to commemorate 50 years of Apollo 11.
Image: U.S. Mint / NASA

Several events have been scheduled to commemorate this landmark, including Apollopalooza 2019 (celebration at the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver), Apollo Gala at the Kennedy Space Center and Summer Moon Festival in Wapakoneta, Ohio. In addition, spectacular commemorative coins from the 50th anniversary of Apollo will be launched on January 24th.

Launch of the CHEOPS space telescope.

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

Image: ESA

CHEOPS will take off with Soyuz rockets and will remain in orbit around 700 kilometers above Earth. CHEOPS will use the traffic detection method and scan the stars to look for signs of extrasolar planets passing in front of them.

Heavenly Beauty

For all who love to observe the sky, 2019 will have some interesting astronomical phenomena.

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

Image: NASA

Three superlunas 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.

Jupiter will be at its closest point to Earth, on June 10, and will look big and bright. The same thing will happen with Uranus on October 27.

On November 11, we will see a strange transit of Mercury through the Sun. This doesn't happen often, and it won't happen again until 2039. If you have the right sunscreen for your telescope, amateur astronomers can see how the sun moves. Mercury in the Sun. It will be seen from eastern North America, Mexico, Central America, South America and parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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