Despite some failures, space exploration continues to have great strength and interest. Every year we go further and we understand a little more about the "deadline", and 2018 is no exception. For the past twelve months we have bid farewell to some of our favorite missions, we celebrate anniversaries, and we are getting closer to our neighbor, planet Mars. As we enter the new year, we present some of the most significant achievements in space exploration and the most important astronomical events in 2018.
60 YEARS OF NASA
Created by the National Aeronautics and Space Act in 1958, the space agency began operating officially on October 1, 1958. Since its inception, NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is a non-military effort focusing on the exploration of civil and scientific space, and related research with space.
NASA has paved the way to space for the United States and internationally. Only 11 years after its founding, the space agency reached the moon and finally sent 12 astronauts to the surface. In the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, this program was dedicated to Space Shuttle, overseeing 135 missions that formed the framework of the International Space Station. Recently, the agency explored the sun, visited all the planets in our solar system, studied asteroids and comets, launched long-distance telescopes, and even sent explorers to Mars.
In the future, NASA is expected to be the driving force that will bring astronauts to the red planet. NASA plans to develop the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway, a small station that will serve as a launch pad for the moon mission. The experience gained from this mission will help NASA, along with its international and commercial partners, to take the next step to Mars.
THE PARKER PROBE AND THE APPROACH TO THE SUN
In August 2018, NASA launched the Parker solar park, a spacecraft designed to travel to the edge of our star corona to study the solar wind. This powerful explosion, produced by enchanting Boreal Auroras, can also affect satellites in orbit and their communication with Earth. In fact, from time to time, solar wind can be strong enough to disrupt the global positioning system (GPS) and high frequency radio communication.
Scientists who study the solar wind know little about how they originated, and solar probe Parker hopes to answer some of the most relevant questions by traveling to the atmosphere outside the sun, where he will take samples directly from solar particles and measure fields. The magnetic investigation will also measure the temperature of the sun to help scientists understand how relatively cold stars, compared to others, (6,000 degrees Celsius) can produce very hot coronas that reach millions of degrees Celsius.
SELFIE LANDER INSIGHTS ON MARS
At 2:50 a.m. on Monday, November 26 2018, NASA's InSight Lander managed to land on the surface of Mars. That's seven minutes at risk when the lander enters the thin atmosphere of Mars at hypersonic speed, and slows down to a perfect landing. Soon after, InSight took its first selfie on the surface of the red planet.
Now on Mars, InSight will be busy collecting geological data from the core to the earth's crust. The lander will analyze various rock layers of the planet, measure the temperature of the planet, and produce data about the axis of the sphere. Scientists hope that we can not only get a better understanding of Mars, but also about the Earth, its differences and similarities.
VIRGIN GALACTIC REACHES SPACE OUTER SPACE
After the 2014 accident that claimed the life of a pilot and caused a two-year absence, Virgin Galactic returned with its plan to conduct a commercial space tourism flight. The company backed by Sir Richard Branson successfully completed four space flights in 2018. The last attempt in December reached 51 miles to reach the Kármán line, or the boundary between the atmosphere and space, before returning to Earth in a safe manner, with a gentle landing on air and port of the Mojave room.
Data collected from flights will be analyzed and used to improve safety and performance of future efforts. The next test flight will be used to simulate the expected weight of commercial cargo when the ship is full of passengers. More than 600 people have purchased tickets to travel using the reusable Virgin Galactic spacecraft. Each ticket costs $ 250,000 dollars, but Branson hopes that one day the price will be lower than $ 40 or $ 50 thousand dollars.
ADVANCED SPACEX BREAKING RECORDS
2018 was a remarkable year for SpaceX, and the company once again showed the world that a re-usable rocket is the way of the future. SpaceX made 20 launches in 2018, surpassing the 2017 record of 18 launches. One of 64 satellites that were last deployed in orbit, a record number of deployments for a mission in the United States. The world record holder is the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) mission that deployed 104 satellites in February 2017.
SpaceX continues to surprise us with rockets that can be reused. For the first time this year, the same driver that launched Falcon 9 has been used for three different launches and landings. But the Falcon 9 rocket is not the only spacecraft in SpaceX's warehouse. The company also developed the Naga capsule, a reusable cargo ship that made its first flight in December 2010. It was the first commercial ship to be built and operated successfully which recovered from orbit. The capsule continues to carry out a successful charging mission for the International Space Station in 2018.
THE END OF THE MISSION FROM THE SHIP ROOM
NASA's Dawn Mission reached a conclusion in 2018 after the spacecraft ran out of fuel. The Dawn spacecraft was launched in September 2007 and covers more than 4.3 billion miles (4.3 billion) in its 11 years of operation. The aim of this mission is to study the dwarf planet Ceres and the giant asteroid Vesta in the asteroid belt.
Images and data recovered from the mission provide information about the origin of our solar system and how it developed in its early years. It also gives a close-up view of the dwarf planet, and sees an asteroid that shows there is ice under the rocky exterior. Now that the useful life has ended, the Dawn spacecraft will continue to orbit the dwarf planet Ceres.
LATEST PICTURE OF THE KEPLER SPACE TELESCOPE
After nine long years of voicing space in search of new horizons, the Kepler space telescope has finally run out of fuel and sent its final image in 2018. Interestingly, it was designed to work for only 3 and a half years, but continued to operate a lot. beyond the deadline thanks to NASA scientists who continued to do so for five years.
This telescope leaves a remarkable legacy. During that time, Kepler collected data on thousands of planets outside our solar system, and a large amount of that new information is now available to the general public.