- 1 January: first orbital flight of SpaceX’s Starship mega rocket
- 2 February: Artemis mission to the moon
- 3 Mid-2022: James Webb’s first returns
- 4 June: European mission Juice to explore Jupiter and its frozen moons
- 5 August: meet an asteroids unlike any other
- 6 September: Europe to conquer Mars
- 7 Autumn: the culmination of the DART mission
Space Exploration 2022, The next few months promise to be particularly exciting in terms of space exploration with new explorations of Mars, a new program to the Moon and encounters with asteroids. Overview of events not to be missed.
Despite a global context made uncertain by the pandemic, the year 2021 was particularly prolific in terms of space news. The past months have given birth to several large-scale missions. The last days of the year were thus marked by the launch of the famous James Webb space telescope, which promises to upset our knowledge of the universe thanks to its giant mirror capable of analyzing objects located in the distant cosmos, where the first galaxies were formed.
Space Exploration 2022, At the end of November, the launch of the DART mission marked the start of a multi-year scientific adventure aimed at testing for the first time an asteroid deflection technique that could threaten humanity in the long term. A funny experience put into abyss a month later by the event film of the end of the year, Don’t Look Up: Cosmic Denial.
A few weeks earlier, this fall, France had witnessed in amazement the second return to Earth of Thomas Pesquet, a national hero now focused on conquering the Moon and the future Martian horizon. The conquest of the red planet became a reality this year with the first returns sent by NASA’s Perseverance rover, which has been exploring its surface in search of signs of past life since the end of February.
The year 2021 also marked the new advent of space tourism, spurred on by private companies financed by billionaires eager for new frontiers. It was also the scene of a certain escalation of tensions between the United States and Russia after a Russian anti-satellite missile was fired, accused of having endangered the safety of ISS astronauts in mid-November.
The next few months promise to be particularly busy with new explorations of Mars, the start of the American Artemis program to return to the Moon, the encounter of a NASA vessel with an asteroid or the first images provided by the James Webb telescope. . An overview of the events not to be missed in space over the coming months.
January: first orbital flight of SpaceX’s Starship mega rocket
In recent months, SpaceX has definitely established itself as the privileged partner of NASA. In addition to bringing back two crews of astronauts from the ISS, including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, Elon Musk’s company developed another rocket, the future Starship spacecraft, designed to propel a load of more than 100 tons into space and ferry future human colonies to Mars.
Before that, the craft was selected by NASA to bring Americans back to the moon. Several suborbital flight tests have already been initiated, consisting of flying at an altitude of around 12 kilometers and then returning to land on a base in the Gulf of Mexico. But most ended in huge fireballs, before a successful first attempt in May. The tests must continue in 2022, with in particular a highly anticipated first orbital flight, hoped for in January or February by Elon Musk.
February: Artemis mission to the moon
Space Exploration 2022, promises to be a pivotal year for the return of man to the Moon. From the start of the year, with the launch of the Artemis 1 mission, the most ambitious objective of the space decade aimed at bringing Americans back to our natural satellite. The mission is set to take a new step in February with the inaugural flight of Space Launch System, NASA’s new rocket, and the Orion capsule. But without an astronaut on board, and without landing to begin with. The Americans’ return to the moon is not expected to take place until 2025.
Mid-2022: James Webb’s first returns
If all goes as planned, the James Webb Telescope, which took off on December 25, will provide its first observations this year. The observatory is currently in transit towards the Lagrange L2 point, located 1.5 million kilometers from our planet, which it must reach at the end of January.
Once its perilous deployment is completed and its mirrors calibrated, it will go in search of its first targets, in search of the light emitted by the first galaxies. The first scientific data are not expected before the middle of the year, probably in the summer.
June: European mission Juice to explore Jupiter and its frozen moons
The year 2022 will see Europe set out to conquer Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, which has more than 60 moons in orbit. ESA is preparing to launch a space probe to explore these unknown worlds. The robotic probe will spend at least three years studying Jupiter and three of its largest icy moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europe, which are believed to harbor oceans beneath their surface. The launch of the Juice mission (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) is scheduled for the month of June.
August: meet an asteroids unlike any other
At the beginning of August, the space probe Psyche will visit the asteroid Psyche. This large 300-kilometer pebble has the particularity of being one of the ten most massive bodies in the main belt, but also of being mainly made of metal.
Located more than 450 million kilometers from Earth, it is barely visible by telescopes. NASA wants to see it more closely to understand how it may have formed and to verify the hypothesis that it could be the remnant of the core of an ancient planet.
September: Europe to conquer Mars
Space Exploration 2022, After Curiosity, Perseverance and Zhurong, Mars is preparing to welcome a new rover to its surface. The European robot Rosalind Franklin is due to head for the red planet this fall to survey its steep terrain from June 2023 as part of the ExoMars 2022 mission. Objective, the Oxia Planum basin in search of biosignatures to determine whether Mars has once been crossed by life forms.
Six years after the start of the Exomars program, the European Space Agency and the Russian Roscosmos agency hope to finally give new impetus to the mission, which has already experienced many setbacks and postponements.
Autumn: the culmination of the DART mission
An unprecedented planetary defense exercise whose scenario has nothing to envy to the best science fiction films should take place at the end of the year 2022. NASA will test for the first time the kinetic impactor method to deflect the trajectory of an asteroid likely to threaten the Earth.
The mission should reach its peak in the fall, when the probe launched at the end of November 2021 will be launched against the asteroid Dimorphos. The American space agency hopes that the impact will be violent enough to modify the speed of the object by 1% and divert it from its trajectory. This dress rehearsal will provide insight into the ability of space agencies to save humanity if one day an asteroid threatens our planet.
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