Let’s review the top 10 space-related stories of 2020
With 2020 just about over, here are the space stories that many feel were the big news of the year.
These are not ranked in order of importance.
Here we go!
1. Space X scores some amazing launches
Space X launched its first astronauts with the May 2020 launch of two aboard the Demo 2 mission to the International Space Station in the Crew Dragon capsule.
This was followed up by the November launch of four astronauts to the ISS with the Crew-1 mission.
2. China’s Chang e 5 moon mission
China completed a difficult mission to the moon with the Chang e 5.
The Chinese spacecraft launched and soft-landed a module, which scooped up some 4.5 pounds of lunar material and returned it to Earth.
3. OSIRIS-Rex mission to asteroid Bennu
This mission to asteroid Bennu, launched back on Sept. 8, 2016. Its goal is to capture some material off the surface of an asteroid.
That occurred in October and the spacecraft is expected to return to Earth with its precious cargo Sept. 24, 2023.
4. Multiple missions headed To Mars
2020 offers some amazing spacecraft headed to the red planet.
NASA launched the high-technology Perseverance spacecraft along with the Mars helicopter Ingenuity. Perseverance will arrive at Mars in February 2021.
The Chinese launched the Tianwen-1 Mars mission and rover, another high-technology spacecraft.
Finally, the United Arab Emirates launched another spacecraft, known as Hope.
Expect some great images and date from the red planet in 2021.
5. 20th anniversary of astronauts to the ISS
The space station has been occupied since November of 2000 and since then, some 241 astronauts have been there.
This marks the 20th year of continuous occupation of the space station.
The ISS is set to remain occupied till at least 2028. The space station makes 16 obits of the Earth in a 24-hour period.
6. NASA announces 18 astronauts for Artemis moon missions
NASA makes some history, with the naming of 18 astronauts for the new moon missions known as Artemis (the Greek goddess of the moon).
The new lineup includes nine women and nine men. They’re set to begin additional training for the return to the moon possibly as early as 2025.
Learn more about this important story here.
7. Coronavirus effects on future spaceflight
NASA has some interesting plans to deal with the containment and vaccination of future astronauts on long duration space missions, from COVID-19 and other pathogens.
Learn more here.
8. Organic compound phosphine in the Venusian atmosphere
Ground-based telescopes claim to have detected the organic compound phosphine in the cloud tops of Venus. If this is finally confirmed by future spacecraft, this could be a most important discovery, indeed!
Phosphine gas is generated by organic life. We may be looking at some form of life closer to Earth than any other location so far.
9. Hyabusa 2 mission to asteroid Ryugu
The Japanese Hyabusa 2 spacecraft made a dramatic landing on the asteroid Ryugu back in 2019 and scooped up some samples of this remnant from the creation of the solar system.
After a long journey back to Earth, samples of this asteroid are now here to examine.
10. American astronaut sets record on ISS
U.S. astronaut Christina Koch spent 328 days on the ISS, breaking the mark for a female astronaut on a single mission on the space station.
Koch is also one of the new Artemis lunar team members for future NASA lunar missions.
Lean more about her here.
The previous record holder, astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson, spent 288 days on a single mission on the ISS.
2021 looks bright for the exploration of space!
Happy New Year!
To print your own monthly star chart, click here.
To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.
Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.