Human exploration and exploration of the universe are progressing day by day. Besides “big industry players” like NASA, Roscosmos or ESA, more and more countries are participating in this expensive but exciting game.
So what new events and milestones will we see this year?
February: Solar Orbiter
Selected as the first medium-range mission of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Cosmic Vision program, the Sun Orbiter will study the nearby star at close range.
The spacecraft will explore the origins of the solar wind and learn how the Sun creates and controls the heliosphere – a “bubble-like” region of space that surrounds the Sun, extending far beyond the Kuiper Belt. .
The Solar Orbiter will also be able to see the poles of the Sun more clearly than ever before, which is really difficult to achieve by observations on Earth.
At the time of this writing (late 2019), the ship was undergoing final testing and launch preparations had been underway since November at Cape Canaveral.
May: First flight with the Dragon 2 cabin astronauts (SpaceX)
Launched by a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Dragon 2 will be the spacecraft’s third orbital flight, but the first to carry humans, including transfer crew Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi.
The ship’s destination is the International Space Station (ISS). Dragon 2 will remain on the ISS for six months after transporting the astronauts to their new home.
The Dragon 2 spacecraft is capable of carrying up to seven astronauts and will continue to ferry other crew to the ISS as part of the Commercial Crew program.
SpaceX’s Dragon 2 spacecraft. Photo: Reverse
July: Collection of OSIRIS-REx samples
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft headed for the carbon-filled asteroid 101955 Bennu and reached its destination in December 2018.
Since then, OSIRIS REx has begun studying this near-Earth asteroid and trying to determine good locations to collect samples to bring back to Earth.
During collection, OSIRIS REx will gradually descend near the asteroid’s surface until the TAGSAM sample collection instrument touches the asteroid’s surface. Then, a jet of nitrogen gas will be emitted, helping to propel the particle into the sample collection device at the end of the robot arm.
NASA’s OSIRIS Rex spacecraft. Photo: Mind Thread
July 17 to August 5: March 2020
NASA’s next rover will launch from Cape Canaveral with a destination at Jezero – a possibly flooded crater on Mars.
The design of this rover is based on Curiosity – the name of the rover that has been operating on Mars since 2012.
The rover’s mission is to examine whether Mars was habitable in the past and to search for biosignatures of Mars microorganisms.
The new rover will also collect soil and rock samples from the surface of Mars. These samples will likely be brought back to Earth for future research.
It is also a preparatory step for the next human exploration effort on the Red Planet.
July 23 to August 5: HX-1
After the unfortunate accident of Yinghua 1 – the first Mars probe of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the country began to develop a design combining a rover and a Mars Fire orbiter, now known as the HX-1.
The ship should be launched using the Chinese heavy launcher system – Long March 5 (Long March 5). The orbiter and rover will work together to map the surface of Mars, study the topography, composition, atmosphere and other properties of Mars.
Like most recent missions sent to our neighboring planet, HX-1 will also be looking for signs of life on Mars. This mission is an act to demonstrate that Chinese science and technology is capable of carrying out the task of collecting samples in the future.
Graphical simulation of the Chinese lander and rover on Mars. Photo: Popci
July 25: ExoMars Rosalind Franklin tự
ExoMars (short for Exobiology on Mars) is a joint program between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s Roscosmos. The program saw the Trace Gas orbiter leave Earth and begin orbiting Mars in 2016.
In fact, the main mission of the Trace Gas ship is as a transceiver station for the Rosalind Franklin rover – which will be launched next year.
The search for life on Mars is at the heart of the ExoMars program. The Rosalind Franklin rover’s landing site is Oxia Planum – one of the largest areas of clay rock on Mars.
This rover has a drill that can penetrate 2 meters from the surface of Mars to take samples for analysis. However, Rosalind Franklin will not directly analyze these samples, but instead the Kazachok lander will take over.
July: Hope March
Hope Mars, also known as the Emirates Mars Mission, was the first Mars research mission by a Muslim nation.
Its purpose is to expand human understanding of the Martian atmosphere, study climate and cycle through the seasons, as well as compare weather patterns between different regions of Mars, delve into events such as storms of dust.
This data will allow astronomers to study climate change on Mars and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen from the planet to space.
Hope is set to visit Mars on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Hope Mars from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Photo: Space Watch
November: Artemis 1
NASA and ESA are preparing for a manned space mission to the Moon called Artemis 1. It will be a test Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle And Space Launch System (SLS).
The Block 1 version of this heavy rocket (SLS) will send the unmanned spacecraft Orion to the Moon no earlier than November 2020, but could be later than expected depending on the inspection process.
Orion will then spend approximately 3 weeks in space, including 6 days in retrograde orbit around Earth’s natural satellite.
If all goes well, Artemis 2 should be launched between 2022 and 2023.
December: Hayabusa 2 brings the specimen back to Earth
Hayabusa 2, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) second specimen collection vessel, arrived on asteroid 162173 Ryugu last year.
The ship studied this near-Earth object in detail, deployed a rover to survey the planet’s surface, and found a favorable location to collect samples.
Hayabusa 2 took two samples, the first on March 21, the second on July 11, 2019 and stored them in insulated containers for return to Earth.
When Hayabusa 2 passes by Earth in December 2020, it will release the sample capsule. If all goes well, the capsule will land safely at the Woomera Test Range in Australia.
The Japanese Hayabusa 2 train. Photo: Universe Today