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Six space missions to look forward to in 2021

Space exploration achieved several milestones in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, including commercial manned space flights and the return of asteroid samples to Earth. Fascinating tasks are expected in 2021, some of which mark breakthroughs

By: Ian Whittaker, Senior Lecturer in Physics, Nottingham Trent University and Gareth Dorian Postdoctoral Fellow in Space Sciences, University of Birmingham

Space exploration achieved a number of milestones in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, including Commercial manned space flights and returning asteroid samples to the earth  

The coming year is going to be just as interesting. Here are some of the tasks you should pay attention to.

Artemis 1

Artemis 1. Image: NASA
Artemis 1. Image: NASA

Artemis 1 is the first flight of the international Artemis program in transport NASA To send astronauts to the moon by 2024 (after a hiatus of more than 50 years). The mission will include an unmanned Orion spacecraft that will circle the moon for three weeks, and will reach a maximum distance from Earth of 450,000 km - the furthest distance ever reached by a manned spacecraft, even if in an unmanned preparatory mission.

Artemis 1 will be launched into Earth orbit by SLS - NASA's first large active launch vehicle since the Apollo program, which will be able to launch spacecraft from the Orion shuttle to the Moon using the launcher's upper stage. The Orion capsule will fly to the moon and carry with it a service module provided by the European Space Agency to help propel it.

The purpose of the mission is to provide engineers on the ground with an opportunity to assess how the spacecraft performs in deep space and to serve as a pilot For missions Later moons include manned missions. The launch of Artemis 1 is planned for the end of 2021.

Mars missions

In February, a multinational flotilla of spacecraft will reach Mars. The El Amal spaceship (Hope) of the United Arab Emirates It is the first interplanetary mission founded in the Arab world. It is scheduled to reach orbit around Mars on February 9, where it will spend two years monitoring Martian weather and the disappearing atmosphere.

A few weeks later, the spacecraft will reach Mars Administration's Tianwen-1 China's national spacecraft, consisting of a spacecraft and an all-terrain vehicle. The spacecraft will enter Mars orbit for several months before deploying the vehicle on the surface. If successful, China will become the third country to land a spacecraft on Mars. The mission has several goals, including mapping the mineral composition of the surface and searching for underground water deposits.

NASA's Perseverance space vehicle It will land in Jazero Crater  on February 18 and will look for signs of ancient life that may have been preserved in the clay deposits there. Mars surface samples will also be stored on board the spacecraft as the first part in an ambitious international program most return samples of Mars to Earth.

Chandrian-3

In March 2021, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plans to launch its third lunar mission: Chandrayaan-3. Chandrayaan-1 was launched in 2008 and was one The first major missions in the Indian space program . The mission, which included a spacecraft and a surface-penetrating probe, was one of the first to confirm evidence to water on the moon. Unfortunately, the connection with the satellite Lost less than a year later. Adding to the grief, there was a similar mishap in its successor, Chandrayaan-2, which included a spacecraft, a lander (Vikram) and a lunar rover (Peregian).

Chandrayaan-3 mission announced A few months later. The task will only include  Lander and all-terrain vehicle– because the spacecraft from the previous mission is still functioning and providing data.

If all goes as expected, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft will land in the Aitken Basin at the lunar south pole. This is important because it may contain underground water ice deposits - an essential element for maintaining a sustainable lunar colony in the future.

James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope. Illustration: shutterstock
James Webb Space Telescope. Illustration: shutterstock

Finally. James Webb Space Telescope It is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, but it had a difficult path to launch. Initially planned for launch in 2007, the Webb telescope is almost 14 years late and costs approx. 10 billion dollar.

While Hubble has provided some amazing visualizations of the universe in visible and ultraviolet light, Webb plans to focus observations In the infrared wavelength band. This is because when viewing really distant objects, there will likely be clouds of gas in the way. These gas clouds block very short wavelengths, such as X-rays and ultraviolet light, while longer wavelengths such as infrared, microwave, and radio can pass through more easily. So by looking at this long wavelength we should be able to see the more distant part of the universe.

Webb also has a much larger 6.5-meter mirror compared to Hubble's 2.4-meter mirror, an essential feature for improving image resolution so finer details can be seen.

Webb's main mission is to observe the light from galaxies at the edge of the universe, so that it can tell us how the first stars, galaxies and planetary systems formed. This could potentially include some information about the origin of life. Also, Webb plans to take high-resolution images of the atmosphere of an exoplanet in order to search for the building blocks of life, do they exist on other planets, and if so, how did they get there?

Webb's launch is now planned on the European Ariane 5 rocket precisely, on October 31.

For an article in The Conversation

More of the topic in Hayadan:

5 תגובות

  1. Infrared viewing is due to the expansion of the universe. Not only is the universe expanding and then more distant objects move away faster, but also that the expansion of the universe is accelerating beyond that. And the farther the observation source is, the faster it moves away and the stronger the red shift of the radiation coming from it (its wavelength gets longer). until it disappears beyond the range of visible wavelength observation.

  2. I am waiting for:
    1. The Mars missions.
    2. James Webb.
    3. DART - NASA's Asteroid Deflection Mission.
    4. The test flights of the SN9, SN10, SN11, SN12, BN1 models and any additional test flight that SpaceX will perform with the Starship and the Superhub.

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