2022 space stories that are out of this world

From the successful science operations of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to the splashdown of the Orion space capsule, 2022 has seen many victories.

Here are the biggest moments to remember:

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)

NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission successfully altered the orbit of an asteroid millions of miles away. After an analysis of more than two weeks after the spacecraft hit Dimorphos – the first time humanity deliberately altered the motion of a celestial object and the first large-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology – scientists found that the kinetic impact shortened the moon’s orbit around its parent asteroid Didymos by 32 minutes. Before, Dimorphos took 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit Didymos. The measurement has a margin of uncertainty of approximately plus or minus two minutes.

NASA’S WEBB TELESCOPE IMAGE REVEALS EARLY STELAR FORMATION IN ‘RARE’ DISCOVERY

In this image made available by NASA, debris ejects from the asteroid Dimorphos, right, minutes after the intentional collision of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission on September 26, 2022, captured by the Italian Space Agency’s LICIACube nearby. On Tuesday, October 5, 2022, NASA said the spacecraft had successfully shifted its orbit.
((UPS/NASA via AP))

Black hole in the Milky Way

Astronomers have unveiled the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The colorized image was produced by the international Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, using observations from a global network of radio telescopes. The black hole is about 27,000 light-years from Earth and 4 million times more massive than our sun.

The Perseverance rover collects Martian samples

NASA’s Perseverance rover is set to begin building the first sample repository on another world. According to NASA, this will mark a crucial milestone in the Mars Sample Return campaign, which aims to bring samples from Mars to Earth for further study. Over the course of approximately 30 days, Perseverance will deposit a total of 10 tubes containing samples representing the diversity of rock records in Jezero Crater.

Orion spacecraft crashes after lunar flyby

Sagittarius A (asterisk) captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration

Sagittarius A (asterisk) captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration
(Credit: EHT Collaboration)

STRIKING NASA IMAGES REVEAL THE LACQUERED SURFACE OF IO VOLCANOES

NASA’s Orion space capsule has crashed into the ocean after a 25-day uncrewed test flight around the moon, concluding a mission that paves the way for astronauts on the next lunar flyby. The capsule crashed west of Baja California, more than 300 miles south of the original target area.

James Webb Space Telescope begins scientific operations

NASA and its international partners have released the full set of first color images and data from the James Webb Space Telescope. The images include exoplanet WASP-96b, which is a hot gas giant located nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth. In another shot shared via an international broadcast, the South Ring, or “Eight-Burst,” the planetary nebula is shown in greater detail, which was previously hidden from astronomers. Then, in an image presented by partners from the European Space Agency (ESA), Stephan’s Quintet – a visual grouping of five galaxies – is seen in a new light, about 290 million light-years away. The final image showed the twinkling view of the Carina Nebula – a stellar nursery – with brand new stars that were previously completely hidden. The “cosmic cliffs” captured by Webb are the edge of the giant gaseous cavity in the star-forming region of the Carina Nebula called NGC 3324. The Carina Nebula, located in the Milky Way, is about 7 600 light years. It is home to many massive stars several times larger than the sun.

Since then, the telescope has helped astronomers discover the first confirmed galaxies to date.

What looks a lot like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening is actually the edge of a young star-forming region near NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula.  Captured in infrared light by the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals previously obscured star birth zones.

What looks a lot like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening is actually the edge of a young star-forming region near NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals previously obscured star birth zones.
(IMAGE: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

NASA’s Native American Astronaut Makes History

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann made history as the first Native American woman to launch into space. Mann, a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian tribes, traveled to the International Space Station as NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission commander aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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Launch of Axiom-1 private spaceflight

Axiom Mission 1, the first private crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), launched in April. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavor lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ax-1 mission sent four private space travelers on a 10-day flight to do science and push the boundaries of commercial spaceflight.

Bradford Betz of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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