Back in the day when the space race was the most competitive global phenomenon, human space landings were the most significant achievement. But today, the modern technological innovations have ruled in the favor of robotic space flights, and advanced technological tools are allowing scientists to identify new planets, discover signs of extraterrestrial settlements, and develop more insight about the universe and its mysteries.
Scientists and astronauts cherish the good old days of human space flights when nearly 40 astronauts were sent on space missions each year, and today, only 4 humans are sent on space flights. These astronauts are sent mainly to the International Space Station to conduct scientific research and maintenance purposes.
However, it is impossible to deny the great advancements that scientists have managed to undertake thanks to innovative new technologies, for instance the human landing on Mars that NASA is planning to launch during the 2030s. The private sector space agencies are also playing a significant part in facilitating spaceflight, and firms like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Blue Origin amongst others, are competing against one another to provide new facilities and tools, and reduce the overall expenses incurred by the space industry.
On 5th May, 2018, NASA successfully launched its ambitious space mission, the Mars InSight Lander aboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas rocket, the mission took place at the Vandenberg Air force Base in Southern California. The Mars InSight Lander is all set to complete a 6 month journey, covering a route sprawling over 300 million miles in order to examine what rests underneath the surface of Mars.
InSight reached Mars at the end of 2018, and it is expected to accumulate insightful information about the wobbling movements of the red planet, marsquakes, heat flows, and other insightful data that will allow scientists to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the evolution and formation of rocky planets such as Mars.
InSight, which basically stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, happens to be the first space mission to lead an inquiry on the surface of the red planet, and its journey is scheduled to come to an end on the 24th November, 2020.
NASA, ESA and multiple other space agencies are planning to conduct exciting space missions and research probes into the universe that will feed the hunger of space addicts by allowing us to understand how the universe works, along with discovering how human landings and explorations on other planets can be made safer and more efficient. We have rounded up several leading planetary missions that will help reveal groundbreaking discoveries.
Here, take a look:
1. Parker Solar Probe
The Parker Solar Probe was scheduled for launch back in July, 2018, and it is expected to fly through the corona of the sun, which is measured to be a distance of 3.8 million from the surface. This probe is all set to be the closest probe conducted in the history of space sciences. The earth stands at a distance of 93 million miles from the sun, and the mission seeks to collect more insight about the characteristics of the sun, and how its solar winds are capable of influencing the atmosphere of planets across the solar system. The spacecraft will take several protective measures and instruments, which are housed in a carbon composite shield that is 4.5 inches thick, and capable of tolerating temperatures that are higher than 2,500 °F or 1,377 °C.
2. Europa Clipper
Europa, one of the moons orbiting Jupiter, has been predicted to have certain atmospheric and topographical conditions that are favorable to sustain human life, for instance the presence of an ocean. Scientists need to conduct research to identify these conditions, which is why the Europa Clipper space mission has been designed.
The Europa Clipper space mission is expected to be launched between 2020 and 2025, however, certain budgetary challenges can created unwanted delays. Initially, the scientists planned to conduct a fly-by operation, however, it is more crucial to create a landing on the planet. The ambition of this mission is to identify the presence of an ocean underneath the frozen ice crust, which is essential to sustain human life.