WATCH: A Look Back at NASA’s 2021, Including Mars Landing, First Flight, Artemis and More
By NASA information center // December 29, 2021
NASA & SPACE NEWS
ABOVE VIDEO: NASA YEAR IN REVIEW – We did some amazing things this year at NASA.
(NASA) – In 2021, NASA completed its busiest year of development yet in low-Earth orbit, made history on Mars, continued to make progress on its Artemis plans for the Moon, tested new technologies for a supersonic aircraft, finalized launch preparations for the next-generation space telescope, and much more – all while safely operating during a pandemic and welcoming new leadership under the Biden-Harris Administration.
“At NASA, we turn science fiction into science fact, and we do it daily. From continuing to launch astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil to landing the Perseverance rover on Mars and logging the first flight on another planet, 2021 was a banner year for the world’s premier space agency and all of humanity,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, who was sworn into office May 3 by Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Next year, NASA will accomplish more daring feats with new discoveries and technological advancements, especially as our Artemis I mission paves the way for future crewed missions to the Moon – and beyond.”
Among the many scientific accomplishments for the year, NASA continued preparations to launch the James Webb Space Telescope on Dec. 24 from French Guiana, successfully landed the Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars, and piloted the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
NASA welcomed back to Earth the first two sets of commercial crew astronauts to complete expedition missions aboard the International Space Station and launched Crew-3 to the orbiting laboratory.
During the Crew-2 mission, astronauts spent a U.S. record-setting 199 days in orbit, surpassing the 168 days set by the Crew-1 mission earlier this year.
The agency advanced plans to explore more of the Moon through Artemis, pledging to send the first woman and first person of color to the lunar surface.
To pave the way for future lunar missions with crew, NASA completed stacking of its Space Launch System rocket, with its Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission launching in spring 2022.
In addition to other highlights, NASA also picked SpaceX to continue the development and demonstration of the first commercial human lunar lander.
This year, the Biden-Harris Administration tapped NASA to join the White House Climate Task Force. The agency also established a new position of senior climate advisor and released a climate action plan aimed at averting mission impacts due to climate change.
NASA also took action to roll out aviation technology to more airports to help save time for passengers, pushing the boundaries of making aeronautics greener and more efficient.
Solar System and Beyond
Prior to the targeted Dec. 24 launch of the Webb Telescope, NASA this year completed testing and sent the telescope on a 5,800-mile journey by sea to its launch site in French Guiana.
Webb is the agency’s final launch this year and was preceded by several other scientific missions launches, including the cosmic X-ray studying Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), the asteroid-studying Lucy spacecraft, the world’s first planetary defense test mission – the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – and two CubeSat missions.
NASA selected multiple new missions for development, including two to Venus, Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor: DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) and VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy).
The Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) mission will study gamma rays to chart the evolution of the Milky Way galaxy.
A small near-Earth asteroid (NEA) made history, becoming the 1,000th NEA to be observed by planetary radar in just over 50 years.
The retired Spitzer Space Telescope continued to offer new insights into the universe.
Using Spitzer data, astronomers identified the three fastest-spinning brown dwarfs ever found and discovered a previously unrecognized “break” in one of the Milky Way’s spiral arms.
Using Hubble and Swift data, scientists identified a new type of supernova. Hubble data also helped astronomers trace the locations of five brief, powerful radio blasts to the spiral arms of distant galaxies.
Using observations from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers discovered a trio of hot worlds larger than Earth orbiting a much younger version of the Sun.
NASA researchers, facilities, instruments, and spacecraft were involved in many more scientific activities in 2021. Highlights this year included:
■ Highlighted two solar eclipses this year including a partial solar eclipse in June and a total solar eclipse in December visible to people in Antarctica.
■ Observations of total solar eclipses revealed the Sun’s corona maintains a fairly constant temperature despite its solar cycles.
■ Provided a closer look at a nearby star, which allows scientists to better understand what our Sun may have been like when it was young, and how it may have shaped the atmosphere and development of life on Earth.
■ Set up the infrastructure for a 2022 sounding rocket launch in Australia. This progress represents a return to launches for Australia and the first time NASA will launch a sounding rocket from a non-U.S. commercial launch pad.
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft fired its main engines full throttle and departed the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and set its course back to Earth with an abundance of rocks and dust samples.
Selected SpaceX to provide launch services for its Europa Clipper mission in October 2024. Clipper is Earth’s first mission to conduct detailed investigations of Jupiter’s moon Europa.
CLICK HERE to read the full story on NASA.gov>>>>
CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY NEWS