Four Upcoming Space Missions That'll Revolutionize How We View the Universe
We are currently experiencing a renaissance in space exploration and study. Public opinion and interest in space programs have always been high, and recent missions and successes have spread like wildfire on social media platforms and news outlets. Projects like the International Space Station and SpaceX’s reusable rocket program have pushed the boundaries of what we know about cosmic science and travel. The future for space research and discovery is looking bright and technological advances are broadening our understanding at a rapid pace.
Let’s go over some upcoming missions and what they may teach us about our solar system and the universe as a whole.
SpaceX Falcon Program
SpaceX has been on a roll lately with the success of their reusable Falcon 9 rockets, which was never before thought possible – and with speed and efficiency not seen since 1995, according to Internationalbrief.com. The cost of launching payloads outside of Earth’s strong gravitational pull has historically been extremely high, costing as much as $10,000 or more to put one pound in low Earth orbit.
SpaceX is looking to bring down the cost of launching satellites and science platforms into space by reusing parts of the rocket with minor refurbishment, with the intent to eventually need no maintenance at all between flights. The ability to send materials and even people into orbit for a fraction of the historical price will revolutionize spaceflight, technology, research and more.
James Webb Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope has given us a view of the greater universe since its launch in 1990. Some of the most iconic images we have of space have been taken by the Hubble telescope, giving the public something tangible to latch onto in terms of justifying space expenditures. The success of the Hubble mission has led to many discoveries and new types of science never thought possible.
We have made great strides in tech since the 1990s, leading to a demand for a bigger and better telescope. The James Webb Space Telescope promises to expand our knowledge of the universe by using infrared imaging to peer back further in time than ever before possible. Due to recent setbacks, the launch of the JWST has been pushed back to May 2020.
Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission
There is a lot to be learned from the many rocks and asteroids floating around our solar system, but we have never been able to get close enough for in-depth analysis. NASA plans to broaden our knowledge and test tech for future missions with the ARRM program. A robotic craft will be charged with visiting a near-Earth asteroid and bringing back a large boulder into a moon orbit for us to study up-close. Manned missions to perform science and bring back samples are planned after the craft returns with a massive space rock.
Mars 2020 Rover
Many are familiar with our most recent ambassador to the Red Planet, the Curiosity rover. Curiosity has led to many new discoveries about the history and make-up of Mars, but the instruments are starting to show their age. All of the advances in tech and manufacturing that have been made since Curiosity’s birth are planned to be incorporated into the new rover design, allowing for better science in greater detail.
As creatures made up of the same matter as stars and black holes, we share a deep connection with the galaxy. A better understanding of the universe around us leads to a better understanding of ourselves and of the Earth beneath our feet. These four missions are sure to contribute to an ever-expanding knowledge of the universe and will change how we see our role within it.