Although stunning images The James Webb Space Telescope caught the attention of space fans this year, with other telescopes and spacecraft busy around Earth and the solar system (SN Online: 12/7/22). Here are some of the coolest space highlights that have nothing to do with JWST.
back to the moon
After several failed attempts, NASA launched the Artemis I mission on November 16.this is towards the goal of putting a man on the moon as early as 2025 (SN: 12/3/22, p. 14). No one has set foot there since 1972. Artemis 1 includes a new rocket, the Space Launch System, which has previously suffered a series of hydrogen fuel leaks, and the new Orion spacecraft. There were no astronauts on the test flight, but Orion carried a mannequin and two mannequin torsos in the commander’s seat to test radiation protection and life support systems, as well as a cargo bay full of small satellites that carry out their own missions. December 11, Orion capsule successfully returns to Earthsplashed down in the Pacific near Mexico (SN Online: 12/12/22).
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DART pushes asteroid
NASA’s DART spacecraft successfully pushed an asteroid into a new orbit this year. On September 26, the double asteroid redirection test hit the asteroid Dimorphos, which was about 11 million kilometers away from Earth at the time of impact. In October, NASA announced the impact shortened the orbit of Dimorphos by about 12 hours orbits its sibling asteroid Didymos in 32 minutes (SN: 11/5/22, p. 14). Dimorphos poses no threat to Earth, but the test will help inform future missions to divert any asteroids from a potentially dangerous collision with our home star, the researchers said.
The InSight Mars lander made a high-profile debut.In a May report by scientists, InSight documented Largest known earthquake on Marsabout magnitude 5, news came in October, and the lander’s seismometer also detected The two largest meteorite impacts It has been observed on Mars.These impacts created large craters and sent Seismic waves ripple along the top of the Earth’s crust.
The details of how these and other waves travel across the Red Planet are giving researchers new information about the structure of the Martian crust that has been difficult to study any other way.The data also suggest that some Martian quakes are caused by Magma moves under the surface (SN: 12/3/22, p. 12). After four years on Mars, the solar panels powering the lander are now covered in dust, sounding the death knell for the mission.
Chemistry of life emerges in meteorites
All five bases in DNA and RNA have been found in rocks that have fallen to Earth. Three nucleobases have previously been found in meteorites, and together with sugars and phosphates, they make up the genetic material of all known life.But the last two — cytosine and thymine — are Reported only from space rocks this year (SN: 6/4/22, p. 7). The discovery supports the idea that the precursor to life may have come to Earth from space, the researchers said.
Sagittarius A* snapshot
The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way has become just the second black hole to be photographed up close.After releasing images of the behemoth at the center of galaxy M87 in 2019, astronomers used data from the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of radio telescopes around the world, to find Assemble the image of Sagittarius A* (SN: 6/4/22, p. 6). The image, released in May, shows a faint, fuzzy shadow nestled within the accretion disk’s glowing ring. That might not sound impressive on its own, but the results provide new details about turbulence near the edge of a black hole.