Despite some failures, space exploration still has great strength and interest. Each year we go a little further and understand a little more about the "final border", and 2018 was no exception. During the last twelve months we said goodbye to some of our favorite missions, we celebrated our anniversary and came a little closer to our neighbor, the planet Mars. Entering the new year, we present some of the most important achievements in space exploration and the most important astronomical events in 2018.
60 YEARS OF NASA
Created by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, the space agency began formal operations on October 1, 1958. From the beginning, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was a non-military effort that focused on exploring the civic and scientific space as well as space-related research.
NASA has opened the way to the cosmos both in the United States and internationally. Only 11 years after the foundation, the space agency reached the moon and eventually sent 12 astronauts to the surface. In the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, the program was dedicated to the space shuttle, supervising 135 missions that established the framework of the International Space Station. Recently, the agency has examined the sun, visited all the planets in our solar system, studied asteroids and comets, launched far-reaching telescopes, and even sent rovers to Mars.
In the future, it is expected that NASA will be the driving force that will take astronauts to the red planet. NASA plans to create a Lunar Orbital Gateway Gateway, a small station that will serve as a starting platform for the mission to the moon. The experience gained during these missions will help NASA, along with its international and commercial partners, take the next step to Mars.
PARKER'S PROBE AND ITS APPROACH TO THE SUN
In August 2018, NASA released the Parker solar probe, a space ship designed to navigate the edge of the star's crown to study the solar wind. These powerful explosions, produced by the dazzling northern lights, can also affect satellites in orbit and their communication with Earth. Even from time to time, solar winds can be strong enough to disrupt global positioning systems (GPS) and high-frequency radio communications.
Scientists studying the solar wind know very little about how they arise, and Parker's solar probe is hoping to answer some of the most important questions, traveling to the outer atmosphere of the Sun, where he will take samples directly from solar particles and measure the magnetic field The probe also measures the temperature of the sun to help scientists understand how a relatively cold star compared to others (6000 degrees Celsius) can produce a crown that is so hot that it reaches millions of degrees Celsius.
SELFIE INSIGHT LANDER FOR MARS
At 14:50 on Monday, November 26, 2018, InSight Lander NASA successfully landed on the surface of Mars. They were seven risky minutes when the lander entered the thin atmosphere of Mars at hypersonic speed and fired to get a perfect landing. Immediately after that, InSight did his first selfie on the surface of the red planet.
Now, when on Mars, InSight will be busy collecting geological data from the core to the shell. The lander will analyze different rock layers of the planet, measure the temperature of the planet and generate the ball's axis data. Scientists hope that we can not only better understand Mars, but also the Earth, its differences and similarities.
GALAKTYK IN VIRGIN ACHIEVED THE EDGE OF THE EXTERNAL SPACE
After the disaster in 2014, which consumed the pilot's life and caused a two-year break, Virgin Galactic returned with plans to conduct commercial spaceflight. The company, supported by Sir Richard Branson, completed four space flights in 2018. The last attempt in December reached 51 miles to reach the Kármán line, the interface between the atmosphere and space, before returning to Earth in some safe way, with a soft landing in the air and the cosmic Mojave port.
The data collected from the flight will be analyzed and used to improve the safety and efficiency of future trials. The next test flight will be used to simulate the payload weight expected when the ship is full of passengers. Over 600 people bought tickets for the Virgin Galactic space cruise. Each ticket costs $ 250,000, but Branson hopes to one day lower that price to $ 40,000 or $ 50,000.
SPACEX CONTINUATION OF BREAKING RESULTS
2018 was another unique year for SpaceX, and the company once again showed to the world that reusable rockets are the way to the future. SpaceX made 20 starts in 2018, ahead of the 2017 record of 18 starts. One of the newest 64 satellites in orbit, a record number of deployments for a single mission in the United States. The holder of the world record is the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) which deployed 104 satellites in February 2017.
SpaceX continues to surprise us with its reusable rockets. For the first time this year, the same driver who introduced the Falcon 9 was used for three different take-offs and landings. But the Falcon 9 rocket is not the only space ship in the SpaceX arsenal. The company also developed the Dragon capsule, a reusable cargo ship that took its first flight in December 2010. It is the first commercial ship built and operating successfully, which recovers from orbit. In 2018, the Capsule continued its successful replenishment missions to the International Space Station.
THE END OF THE MISSION OF THE DAWN SHIP
The NASA Dawn mission came to an end in 2018 after the space ship depleted. The Dawn spacecell was launched in September 2007 and covered over 4.3 billion miles (4.3 billion) over its 11 years of operation. The purpose of the mission was to explore the dwarf planet Ceres and the gigantic Vesta asteroid in the asteroid belt.
Images and data recovered from the mission provided information about the origin of our solar system and its development in the early years. He also provided an approximate view of the dwarf planet and looked at the asteroid, which suggests that the ice was under this rocky surface. Now that its usefulness is coming to an end, the Dawn space probe will orbit the Ceres dwarf planet's orbit.
LATEST PICTURES OF THE KEPLER SPACE TELESCOPIC
After nine long years of delving into the deep space in search of new horizons, the Kepler space telescope finally ended up with fuel and delivered the last images in 2018. Interestingly, it was designed to work only for 3 and a half years, but it still worked a long time after the deadline, thanks to NASA scientists who maintained it for the next five years.
This telescope definitely leaves a great legacy. At the time, Kepler collected data on thousands of planets outside our solar system, and much of this new information is now available to the general public.