Most of us will remember 2020 primarily as the year of the great pandemic, but let’s not forget how space exploration and astronomy had good years given the circumstances. NASA astronauts blasted into space in May as part of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. New search She revealed that there may be more Water on the moon Than previously thought. Scientists discussed whether or not Venus harbors life In its clouds after the discovery of phosphine. Betelgeous Gemini He continued to darken, raising suspicions that he might soon wear off. The researchers noticed something surprisingly strange A series of radio signals.

While 2021 won’t magically reset our reality, there is a lot to look forward to next year, especially in the world of space news. Even if you aren’t a space enthusiast, it’s surprising what it can do to experience a little astonishment and awe for your mind. It helps put our place in the world into perspective and reminds us that we are part of something bigger; Getting to know our world is a great way to take advantage of that. If you feel like there’s nothing to look forward to next year, consider adding one of these tasks to your list.

NASA launches Q-PACE

The CubeSat Particle Assembly and Collision Experiment (Q-PACE), which was originally scheduled to launch earlier this month, was scheduled to take off from the Mojave Air and Space Port on January 15, 2021. Q-PACE is the 3U CubeSat, which is A modular small spacecraft type, designed to study the collision and aggregation of small particles in a room as part of a three-year microgravity experiment. The goal of the mission is to develop a database of interactions of small particles in microgravity at low velocity. This information will help researchers better understand the early clotting process that led to the formation of the planets.

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“The Q-PACE mission will last for up to three years, providing the opportunity to study adhesion and fragmentation events that rarely occur, such as the near-simultaneous collision of three or more particles,” NASA He explains About the mission. “The mission will continue in several phases as different types of particles are introduced into the ethanol concentrate, starting with large solid spherical particles, and ending with micron-sized clusters of dust and chondriols.”

Mars2020 will finally start

The year 2021 will be the start of a new chapter in the discovery of Mars. During the summer, the mission Mars2020 It took off in space. But February 18, 2021 Rover perseverance You will finally land on the Jezero Crater crater of Mars. Its mission is expected to take 687 Earth days, or one Earth year.

According to NASA, the primary scientific goals for Mars 2020 are “to identify past environments capable of supporting microbial life, look for signs of potential microbial life in the past, collect core and regolith samples and temporarily store them on the surface for future missions, and test oxygen from the Martian atmosphere.” .

One of the most exciting parts of the mission is that the samples collected will be returned to Earth. Sample return missions too Unfamiliar Due to their expense; In particular, there was no mission returning a sample from another planet.

“ Returning Mars samples to Earth has been a goal of planetary scientists since the early days of the Space Age, and the successful completion of this MSR [Mars Sample Return] The main decision point is an important next step in making this goal a reality. He said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Director of Science at NASA Headquarters. “MSR is a complex campaign, and it sums up the essence of pioneering space exploration – pushing the boundaries of what is capable and, by doing so, advancing our understanding of our place in the universe.”

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As part of the Mars2020 mission, NASA will also deploy cleverness Helicopter from the probe to study the Martian atmosphere. This will help NASA study how oxygen is produced from the atmosphere of carbon dioxide on Mars, an important step for the future of human exploration on Mars.

The Parker Solar Probe will make two more planes on Venus

The car-sized probe, which was launched in 2018, is scheduled to make the fourth and fifth flights of Venus, in February and October, respectively, in 2021. The two planes are part of a longer flight to reach its closest point to the sun in 2025.

Previously as a salon explained, These flights are unique because they take advantage of Venus’ gravity to slow the probe in order to reach it in close orbit around the sun. The probe will make seven flights over seven years.

“Although this sounds strange, the laws of physics allow any two objects of mass to exchange their momentum in such a way that one accelerates while the other slows,” said Keith Spencer of Salon. “This method is often used to send spacecraft to great distances from the solar system without using as much fuel to accelerate as it would have done otherwise.”

The James Webb Space Telescope is launched

On October 31, 2021, it’s nearly $ 9 billion James Webb Space Telescope – Successor to the Hubble Telescope – It will launch from a port near Kourou, French Guiana. Its mission is to observe the first galaxies that formed in the early universe, in addition to seeing stars forming planetary systems. According to NASA, the observatory will be the flagship of the 1920s and will assist thousands of astronomers around the world.

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“[James Webb] He will study how the first stars were very different from the stars around us today, because there are no minerals that make up stars today, ” He said Massimo Stiavelli, Head of Mission, The Space Telescope Science Institute, in an interview with NasaSpaceflight.com. “The stars had to make it. [James Webb] It is the only telescope designed to study those early ages. “

A lunar polar hydrogen diagram will map water on the moon

Scientists previously suspected water was in the cool, shady parts of the moon – like its poles, where it would remain frozen – but A pair of studies published in 2020 It confirmed that there was a large amount of water in the sunlit areas as well. Polar lunar hydrogen chart (LunaH-Map) It will enhance our knowledge of water on the moon by orbiting the moon with the goal of determining the amount of water ice present in permanently shaded lunar polar craters. He will do this by using a miniature neutron spectrometer to count the epithelial neutrons. The shoebox-sized spacecraft will launch no later than November 2021.

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