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Mendalla

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Gizmodo has published a roundup of what is happening in the world of space exploration next year, and there's plenty afoot.


A few highlights:
  • The three Mars missions launched this year arrive at their destination (US's Perseverance, UAE's Amal, and China's Tianwen-1) so expect lots of Mars news
  • The James Webb telescope should finally launch on Hallowe'en of all days
  • Lots of activity on the moon including two private US probes and Russia's first trip to the moon since the seventies (Luna 25, picking the number right up from 1976's Luna 24)
  • NASA will attempt to redirect an asteroid, the first test of technology that might one day help save us
  • China will launch the first module of its Tianhe space station, which will set them up to return to crewed missions for the first time in a while
  • Elon Musk's SpaceX Starship may have its first orbital flight if testing continues to go well
  • One new telescope, the Vera C. Rubin in Chile, will see first light though it won't be fully operational until 2022.
 

Mendalla

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So I will likely make this my ongoing thread for astronomy and space travel news and events. You are all welcome to chime in, though I've never been clear on whether there are even any other space geeks on here.
 
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Now that they've got SpaceX, Space Force, and Guardians (of the Galaxy) branding, I'm put off. That's a waste of money.

Stopping asteroids if to save the planet sounds cool. Telescopes are cool.

(To clarify - exploring space is cool. But not all the time. Sometimes, like in these times, it's not a priority for spending. And the cheesiness of the American branding efforts puts me off. And Elon Musk makes me uneasy.)
 
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Mendalla

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SpaceX, Space Force, and Guardians (of the Galaxy) branding
SpaceX has nothing to do with the other two other than maybe bidding on some of their launch contracts. And Space Force is a defense agency, not space exploration. Thus, I am unlikely to talk much about it here and, indeed, I kind of hope Biden does some reining in there, though I understand that back when he was in the Senate, he was in favour of taking space away from the Air Force. Which means that, in principle, Space Force is likely going to stay around in some form.

Elon Musk makes me uneasy
Me, too. In fact, I am very much a critic of him as a human being, esp. given his idiotic behaviour around COVID. However, SpaceX is currently well ahead of any government agency and most other rocket launch contractors technologically so I am prepared to live with them being involved in space exploration. At least they are a startup unconnected to the old MIC aerospace companies like Lockheed, Grumman, and Boeing and are, in some regards, a breath of fresh air that is kicking those old school defense contractors' butts.

So, just to clarify, this thread will be about the exploration of space, not defense systems based in space save when the two overlap (as they inevitably will at times). Space Force will rarely be mentioned, NASA quite frequently mentioned.
 

Luce NDs

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Nothing is expansive ... following real gas rho elle! Tis not understood by the institutionalized as they cannot learn NU's tuff!

They are happy about fixation ... like a jet; a dark spout from the end ... there was an article in the news today about particles coming from the polar ends!

Don't tell POTUS ... it won't be believed ... denied thoroughly! Nos height ... tis holy ... somewhat vacant!
 

Mendalla

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And the traffic jam in Martian orbit is building.

Amal (Hope), the UAE's mission (and the first one ever from the Arab world) went into orbit around the Red Planet yesterday to great fanfare.


And fairly reliable Twitter sources like Scott Manley are reporting that Tianwen from China entered orbit more quietly overnight or this morning. Not sure why China continues to be so quiet about its space missions while others trumpet theirs, but that's the way they roll, I guess.


One more to go, and that's the US Perseverance probe which reaches Mars in a week.
 

Luce NDs

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Mars is approached as a conflict regarding space rheum and the Rhodes required to get into conflicted Aræs ... das delight!

Enlightened ...
 

Waterfall

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And the traffic jam in Martian orbit is building.

Amal (Hope), the UAE's mission (and the first one ever from the Arab world) went into orbit around the Red Planet yesterday to great fanfare.


And fairly reliable Twitter sources like Scott Manley are reporting that Tianwen from China entered orbit more quietly overnight or this morning. Not sure why China continues to be so quiet about its space missions while others trumpet theirs, but that's the way they roll, I guess.


One more to go, and that's the US Perseverance probe which reaches Mars in a week.
What's going on with all the traffic to Mars anyway? Are they anticipating we will have to leave Earth someday....seems odd?
So far, isn't earth the only place O2 exists?
 

Mendalla

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What's going on with all the traffic to Mars anyway? Are they anticipating we will have to leave Earth someday....seems odd?
Nope. There is a limited launch window for the optimal route to Mars and it doesn't come up again until 2022 so everyone was basically scrambling to launch when it opened up last year, causing them all to arrive at once.
 

Waterfall

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Nope. There is a limited launch window for the optimal route to Mars and it doesn't come up again until 2022 so everyone was basically scrambling to launch when it opened up last year, causing them all to arrive at once.
I get that.....just don't get the urgency of it all with the pandemic and such going on right now....just seems weird, even India too.
 

Mendalla

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I get that.....just don't get the urgency of it all with the pandemic and such going on right now....just seems weird, even India too.
But those missions took years to develop and everything was probably in place long before the launch window. It's not like they just decided last year to launch in that window. Perseverance, in particular, was in development for over a decade or something.

So it really is all about scheduling and coincidence; scientists in JPL, UAE, and Beijing pulling out their calendars two or three years ago and calculating which launch window they could hit and coming up with this one.

In fact, there could have been four but the ESA's Mars mission got delayed (again, IIRC) to the 2022 window.
 

Waterfall

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And tomorrow the Perseverance Rover attempts to land on Mars!!!! at roughly 3:55 pm.
Yes we,ve landed before but this is the most complex rover to date and it will be the first time for a return trip that will include rock samples.And we will be listening to the sounds of Mars, launch the first helicopter and search for ancient alien life,for the first time.
 

Mendalla

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And tomorrow the Perseverance Rover attempts to land on Mars!!!! at roughly 3:55 pm.
Yes we,ve landed before but this is the most complex rover to date and it will be the first time for a return trip that will include rock samples.And we will be listening to the sounds of Mars, launch the first helicopter and search for ancient alien life,for the first time.
Interestingly, it's using the same landing system they used for Curiousity. Guess they decided it worked once, so why not try again. Then again, given the checkered history of Mars exploration (something like half of all Mars missions have failed for one reason or another), I am sure the gang at NASA and JPL will be crossing all crossable appendages.
 

Mendalla

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And it's official: Perseverance is on Mars.

Excited New Year GIF


Now we wait for the science to begin. And for China's Tianwen-1 to land (scheduled for May).
 
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