For many reasons, 2020 may be a watershed between society and science. Astronomers and space agencies spent a year managing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. They also made breakthroughs in new technologies and bid farewell to several important projects.
This year, the task of taking samples has entered a new era. The protest against the telescope, a dazzling comet and the “great union” of Saturn and Jupiter have brought incredible visits.
This is our review of the top ten space stories of 2020.
Coronavirus affects space science
The coronavirus pandemic has affected many fields of astronomy and spaceflight.Universities, space agencies and ongoing projects Adapt to With the emergence of a new reality, countries around the world have taken measures to prevent the spread of the respiratory disease COVID-1
Social distancing measures have affected this field in many ways.NASA and other space agencies Order Their employees work from home. Projects like Event Horizon Telescope, which took the first black hole photo in history, cancel Its observations for 2020.The satellite continues to observe and shows Desolate street with Short-term changes Emissions caused by human activities.Like protest Opposition to the construction of a 30-meter telescope in Hawaii has also ceased to ensure that the elderly in the community are protected from the disease.
Spacecraft like NASA’s asteroid sample OSIRUS-REx mission also had to postpone its most important operation-the retrieval of materials from the asteroid Bennu-due to restrictions imposed by efforts to mitigate the virus on Earth.
This virus is contagious and deadly, which is obvious to the space agency. On May 6, the head of the Russian human space program died A few weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus. In late April 2020, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California developed a new ventilator called Vitalarge Limited ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
The iconic Arecibo observatory collapsed
This year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) said goodbye to Puerto Rico’s iconic Arecibo Observatory, after two major cable failures caused the radio telescope to collapse. This 57-year-old structure was once the world’s largest radio disk telescope, and researchers have used its functions to make major breakthroughs in astronomy. The Arecibo Observatory also served as the theatrical background for films such as “Contact” and “Golden Eye”.
The facility suffered two cable failures this year, and then in early December, the suspended platform above the radio antenna crashed.
The news about Arecibo’s structural damage and subsequent decommissioning is depressing The same is true for local communities. For children in Puerto Rico, a field trip to the visitor center is a “passing ceremony.”
The boom of sample return missions
new”Golden ageThe sample retrieval task is here.
In October 2020, NASA OSIRIS-REx The mission to the asteroid Bennu successfully picked up space rock fragments and brought them to Earth. On December 7, JAXA’s asteroid Ryugu collected samples of asteroids ab bird 2 task Arrivals Japanese scientist. A capsule containing rocky material landed in the Woomera Taboo Zone in Australia on December 5. The spacecraft performed an extended mission and returned to the solar system. Hayabusa, the predecessor of the spacecraft, was the first mission to bring asteroid debris back to Earth.
China’s E 5 The mission also conducted a rendezvous with the moon at the end of 2020.The first lunar sample that reached Earth was landed by NASA Apollo Project.
China analyzes weird material on the far side of the moon
Chinese scientists published Strange substance They found it on the other side of the moon. Yutu 2 wanderers from China’s S’e-4 mission discovered this gelatinous substance in July 2019. This year, Chinese researchers described the substance in a new paper.
The glassy substance is dark green and looks like breccia, or broken pieces of minerals bonded together. Information about the materials was collected from Yutu 2’s panoramic and hazard-avoidance cameras and the rover’s visible and near-infrared spectrometer (VNIS) instruments. The researchers wrote that this material may have formed during an impact or volcanic eruption.
Phosphine on Venus
On September 14, a group of astronomers announced that they had detected The chemical fingerprint of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. This compound was found near microorganisms on the earth. Some people believe that this may be a biological feature, which indicates that certain high-life forms of organisms in the Venus cloud can survive. extreme environment.
Astronomers used the James Clerk Maxwell telescope in Hawaii and the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile to detect the chemical signature of phosphine. Since Venus is like the Earth, there are many oxygen-carrying molecules in it, so the content of phosphine confused researchers, which can quickly destroy phosphine.
skeptic Establish signs of life carefully. However, this discovery still attracts people all over the world.
Solar orbiter launch
In February 2020, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched a new solar mission. The solar orbiter mission aims to study the sun at close range to understand the bubbles surrounding the solar system.
The sun affects an area in space called the heliosphere. The solar system is in it, and beyond this area is interstellar space. To understand the heliosphere, the solar orbiter will carefully examine the polar regions of the sun. The mission’s innovative heat shield can withstand temperatures up to 970 degrees Fahrenheit (520 degrees Celsius).
related: The world’s largest solar telescope produces unprecedented images of our stars
Thirty-meter telescope protest
Native Hawaiians known as Kia or Protectors continue their protest Oppose the construction of a 160-foot-tall (49-meter) thirty-meter telescope (TMT) this year. TMT started in 2003, when two California universities established non-profit partnerships with their counterparts in Japan, China, India, and Canada.
Kia formed a camp to protest the start of construction in the summer of 2019. They believe that Mauna Kea is a sacred religious site for native Hawaiians, and TMT will be a huge new member of the summit, which already has about twelve observatories.
Goodbye, Spitzer Space Telescope
On January 30, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope went offline after spending more than 16 years observing the universe. The mission team put the spacecraft into a permanent dormant state to end the mission; team members believe that the spacecraft will eventually rupture in the debris field.
Spitzer’s former project manager Suzanne Dodd (Suzanne Dodd) told a symposium on the telescope on January 23 that it had discovered a “cornucopia” of cosmic details.
Spitzer uses a technique called spectroscopy to collect data. This allows scientists to use the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum to study the universe. Scientists use infrared data to understand space dust and particles, which do not emit light under visible light like stars, thus providing a more complete picture of the universe.
Hello comet xinxing
Comet NEOWISE was discovered by NASA’s NEOWISE mission in March 2020 and dazzled the eyes of the earth in the following weeks. This icy comet was closest to the sun on July 3 and survived the encounter, making stargazers marvel at its impressive tail as it is heading towards the outer solar system. Comet NEOWISE will return for another 6,800 years.
In addition to making it more beautiful, the brightness of the comet also allows astronomers to collect high-quality data about the object.NASA officials Said The last comet in such an impressive exhibition was Hale-Bopp in 1997.
related: Amazing photos of comet NEOWISE from Earth and space
plus: The Hubble Telescope captured a magnificent view of Comet NEOWISE after a spectacular summer sky show
Saturn and Jupiter confluence
The last amazing celestial event in 2020 is “Great combination“It is the date when Saturn and Jupiter are released on December 21, which is also the date of the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.
Soon after sunset, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen close to each other in the evening sky. The distance between them is only one tenth. They have been close to each other in the sky for more than 400 years.
The amazing end of this historic year. A planetary satellite captured the perfect combination of Jupiter and Saturn-the closest night sky the two planets have passed in nearly 800 years. Happy holidays planet team. pic.twitter.com/Is4xQTtaId December December 23, 2020
When the Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn form a straight line through space, the conjunction between the two planets occurs approximately once every twenty years. Fortunately for observers, the sky is clear when the junction is observed, and the glint of Jupiter’s Galileo moon can be seen.
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