As 2018 wraps up, it's time to review some of the biggest space science stories of the year. From incredible exomoons to artist missions to heavy groovy waves, the last 12 months have been packed with science. Here are the top stories of the year.
Be sure to tell us your favorite scientific stories in the comments! [Related: The Greatest Spaceflight Moments of 2018!]
Year of tasks
The year 2018 saw the beginning of some missions, and the end of others. Even a spaceship that opened long ago from the 1970s entered the news!
The end of Kepler
After nearly a decade of searching for planets around other stars, NASA's Kepler spacecraft was suspended on November 15, after the legendary star hunter finally ended, Kepler made history by discovering thousands of planets, dramatically increasing the number of known worlds around In 2008, a year before the launch of Kepler, scientists confirmed the existence of 340 planets, according to the Encyclopedia of the Planets Kepler donated another 2,328 worlds, with another 2,425 candidates awaiting approval.
Kepler's $ 700 million mission was launched in March 2009 to determine how Earth-like planets are common in our Milky Way galaxy. The spacecraft stared at more than 150,000 stars at the same time, setting up bright dips that could be caused by a planet moving between Earth and a star. In 2013, the second of the four spacecraft's four response wheels failed, completing the original mission and giving rise to a new mission known as K2, where he surveyed various parts of the sky.
Rise of Tess
Even as Kepler faded away, NASA began a new hunting mission, the Transopetet Transit Survey (TESS) launched into orbit around the globe on April 18 and began collecting scientific data on July 25. In September it had already announced its first two planets, During the two years of observation, TESS will watch almost all of the sky, focusing on 200,000 bright stars.In this short term, researchers estimate that the telescope will find about 10,000 more planets, including some of the size of the Earth.
Photo 3 From: A look at Mars /
This year, we have brought milestones to a planet within our solar system. NASA's Insight plane landed safely on Mars on November 26. Like TESS, Insight began its interstellar journey in 2018. Its launch on May 5 was the first takeoff of an interstellar mission from the US West Coast . Two tiny dice were launched with the probe and tracked to the red planet, presenting real-time updates on the mission and becoming the first small satellites to emerge from Earth's immediate orbit. When it came to Mars, Insight touched a placid plume, flat flat plane. Insight is a lander, not Robert; it will remain stationary on its mission.
During the next two Earth years, the lander will explore the structure and inner structure of the red planet in unprecedented detail. A heat test will be dug up to 1.5 meters below the surface, while a triad of remarkably accurate seismometers will monitor the star for shrapnel, meteorite effects, and other activities. The devices are still waiting for deployment, and it will take another month to calibrate them for use on Mars. But 2018 saw the lander touch safely, a decisive step in her investigation, and one who did not get all the Mars missions.
Hard times for an opportunity
NASA's Mars Marshal, "Opportunity," lost contact with the Earth on June 10. A massive dust storm on the planet blocked the sun, causing the vehicle to retreat to low power, and only on September 11 was the spacecraft Capable of getting enough light to start generating electricity.After listening daily for a month later, the crew members scal back their efforts to hear signals for Rover. NASA will continue to listen passive for Robert by the end of January 2019.
The opportunity landed on Mars with her sister robot, Spirit, in 2004. The couple had a life span of 90 days of Mars, each about 40 minutes longer than the earth's day, on the surface, with dust expected to bury them slowly. But the wind lasted seven years, while Opportunity approached its 15th year when the storm fell. It becomes the longest Mars rider probe in history. In its 12 year, opportunity traveled marathon – exceeding 26.5 km (42.65 km), farther than any robot traveled across another world.
Mars was not the only place in space to get visitors this year. NASIR's OSIRIS-Rex, which was launched in September 2016, came at the asteroid built in December. In order to help scientists improve their understanding of the history of the solar system, OSIRIS-Rex will eventually return a sample from Bennu back to Earth in 2023. But before it starts flying back, the spacecraft will study the 1,640 feet (500 meters) near the asteroid planet. Just a week after his arrival, the researchers announced that Oceanis-Rex had found traces of minerals that proved that liquid water had once been plentiful in the asteroid's parent body.
Another space agency entered the orbit of the asteroid: Japan's Hyabasa spacecraft landed on the Ryugu asteroid in October, and introduced a sample reconstruction to Earth as well. Hayabusa2 was launched on December 2, 2014. It arrived in Ryugu on June 27, 2018, and began a 1.5-year long survey of the asteroid. In September, the spacecraft dropped two tiny bouncing robots that sent images of the asteroid's surface, as well as a larger lander that briefly collected measurements. In 2019, Hayabusa2 will descend to the surface of the asteroid to retrieve a sample that will land in Australia by 2020.
Voyager 2 goes between the stars
The spacecraft, launched in 1977, visited the four giant planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – and discovered 16 moons, as well as dark dark spectra Of Neptune, cracks in the ice shell of Jupiter Moon ring features in every huge world.
Unlike Voyager 1, which has crossed the heliosphere – a bubble of charged particles from the sun that affects the solar system's environment – in 2012, Voyager 2 carries two devices that are integrated onto particles, when they can collide with the spacecraft. This means that Vigor will collect new data rather than a new type of data.
With six tracks, half a vehicle and a lander, Mars received a lot of journalism in 2018. From lakes to organisms to massive dust storms, the red star had a way to keep all the eyes on the road.
Organic and oxygen on Mars
NASA researchers have found a variety of organic molecules, the carbon-based building blocks, as we know it, in 3.5 billion-year-old Martian rocks, and they looked closely at the samples of the first two Sharp rocks, In 1994 and in 2015. They found several new organisms, as well as a number of molecules that are probably fragments of compounds much larger than carbon, although they were not proof of life, they may have come from ancient life or at least provided a source of food for tiny organisms of the past.
In a separate study published in October 2018, researchers reported that saltwater saline water could contain enough oxygen to support life. The researchers demonstrated the oxygen potential of brine near the surface and calculated the amount of dissolved molecular oxygen they could contain at various points around the Martian planet. They found that brines could hold enough oxygen to support more aerobic or less aerobic life all over the planet. While not a direct detection, the study raises interesting points about the potential habit of Mars today.
Liquid water under ice Mars
In July, researchers announced the discovery of a large underground lake hidden beneath the surface of the Earth. The lake sits below a mile (1.6 km) of ice on the South Pole.Using a device on the ESA's Mars Express, which has surrounded the Red Planet since 2003, researchers used radar pulses to study the inner structure of the planet . The radar signals bounce back a different path depending on the material they encounter.And under the South Pole, the radar signals found signs of a hidden lake.
According to the radar, the lake is no more than 12.5 km (20 km) across. Researchers can not determine exactly how deep the lake, but they confirmed it has a depth of at least 3 meters (1 meter). Do not hold fresh water: To stay liquid in freezing temperatures under ice, the lake should be quite salty, the researchers said.
Epic The Dust Storm Of Mars
For the first time in a decade, a huge global storm of dust wriggled around the planet Mars. The storm grew over a period of several weeks, and by June 20, NASA officials classified it as a global weather event.
Originally discovered on May 30 by the NASA Mars Orbiter Tour, the storm has grown to become more of the last global dust storm, the 2007 storm that survived an opportunity.It is more like a dust storm set by the Viking Landing 1 in 1977. The storm began to decline in July , And by the end of August the usual conditions were just around the corner.
Familiarity with the universe
From distant stars to dark matter, heavy waves to exomots, 2018 was a year of stars for astronomy beyond the solar system.
Dark matter and the first stars of the universe
The first stars of the universe may have revealed an important clue to dark matter. In February, researchers reported that they had identified the fingerprints of the first stars of the universe. The signal was twice as strong as expected, suggesting that the hydrogen gas that filled the early universe was significantly colder than expected, or that the levels of the background radiation were higher than the radiation left from the big bang. Perhaps the chilling effect comes from dark matter.
While the standard material spent the 13.8 billion years of heating, dark matter has been cooled down. When the particles of both collide, the heat will naturally move from the warmer body to the cold one, causing the body to warm and cool down so slightly. With nothing else to heat the gas in the early universe, it would cool down quickly as it interacted with dark matter. In today's universe, this effect will be drowned in starlight and X-ray effects from objects like black holes.
The most distant planet ever noticed
In April, astronomers reported that NASA's Hubble Space Telescope had identified the most distant star ever observed (the stars exploding into supernovae seen from afar), known as Icarus, is 9 billion light-years from Earth, Billion years to reach us.In comparison, the age of the universe is about 13.8 billion years.
Astronomers found the star through a gravitational lens. Using a massive object like a cluster of galaxies to bend the light, Gravity Lenses serves as a magnifying glass to make dull objects appear brighter than the perspective of the Earth. Typically an object can be magnified up to 50 times, but a rare alignment between Hubble and Icarus allowed the newfound star to be magnified more than 2000 times.
LIGO specifies 4 new gravitational wave signals
The laser-based laser interferometer (LIGO) in the United States and its European counterpart Virgo unveiled four new waves of gravitational waves in December, where the massive collisions are produced as pairs of black holes or neutron stars – two remarkably dense objects left behind an exploding star – approaching each other. They dance, they cause gravitational waves to roll out until objects collide in the end.
The new announcement marks the largest batch of simultaneous release of gravity, bringing the total to 11 for only a handful of years. This includes an event which is also the most massive and the most remote collision to date. The fourth discovery was not the result of new discoveries, since both LIGO and Virgo have been downgraded since August 2017. Instead, the signals were found when the scientists looked back through discoveries made between 25 August 2017 and 30 November 2018.
An abundance of mysterious radio bursts
High intensity radio emissions called "FRBs" can pack as much energy as 100 years of solar activity into short bursts of milliseconds. Their source remains a mystery. But in October, astronomers announced the discovery of 20 previously unexplored suburbs, including the closest to Earth and the brightest one we've ever seen. This raises the total to just over 50, with the first discovery coming in 2007.
Using Australia's Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) network, a network of 36 radio stations in Western Australia, the researchers put 20 new suburbs on the surface of the sky a thousand times more than the full moon. The new study suggests that FRBs come from the other side of the universe, rather than from our galactic neighborhood.
Ex Exoon first?
Moons are common in the solar system but remain out of sight during the hunt for planets. It may have changed this year. In October, astronomers announced the first evidence for London, a Neptune-sized satellite orbiting the Kepler-1625b gas giant. While the observations do not constitute definitive identification, they provide enough information to allow other astronomers to determine whether a moon could be teasing out.
The new results have grown from Axon targeted hunting using data from Kepler. While studying planets with relatively wide orbits – planets that take at least 30 Earth days to form a path – astronomers found strange deviations around 1625b, a planet about three times as high as Jupiter around a sun-like star. Although last year saw a leakage of results, this year the researchers were able to publish their findings in a peer review journal, a rigorous part of the scientific method.
The monthly eclipse of the summer
Back on Earth, no scientists could enjoy three eclipses for a month. On July 13, a partial solar eclipse crossed the ocean between Australia and Antarctica. The best place to see the eclipse was on Peterson's Antarctica Bank, home to the Emperor Penguin colony. The total lunar eclipse on July 27, the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century. This eclipse lasted 1 hour and 43 minutes, only 4 minutes shorter than such a long event calculated by the astronomers. Observers in much of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and the Indian Ocean region have caught an eye. The triple title with a partial solar eclipse on August 11 is visible to those living in northern Europe, a large part of central and eastern Asia, and northern and eastern Canada.
While a solar or lunar eclipse usually follows a colleague in two weeks, a triple game is out of the question. During the lunar eclipse of the summer, the moon passed only north of the middle of the earth, reaching the descending node of its orbit – the point where it crosses north-south moving eucalyptus – only 138 minutes after it becomes a full moon, resulting in a near-severe major flaw. As a result, a pair of new moons before and after the full moon dance is just close enough to the moon's node rising to allow the moon to partially eclipse the sun both times.
A new member of the solar system
Towards the end of 2018, astronomers announced the newest member of our planetary collection, a potential dwarf planet that is the most distant body ever observed in the solar system. Named "Farout", the official designation of the object is 2018 VG18. Farout encompasses more than 100 times the distance from Earth to the sun, taking more than a thousand years to take a single trip around our planet. מחקר ראשוני מצביע על כך שהוא כוכב גמד עגול ורדרד על פני 310 מייל (500 ק"מ).