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The Future of Space Exploration in 2022

Space 2022
2022 is queued up to be a major year for space exploration. Credit: NASA, CC BY-NC 2.0

2022 will be a big year for space exploration, as the United States, China, and other major countries all have ambitious plans for the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

2021 was a major year for space: NASA reached the sun’s atmosphere for the first time, launched the DART mission, and, in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, launched the James Webb Space Telescope.

One of the most hotly anticipated missions of 2022 is NASA’s Artemis, which aims to put the first woman on the lunar surface by 2024. The mission is named after the ancient Greek goddess who was the daughter of Zeus and Leto.

Artemis is the goddess of the moon, as well as being the twin sister of Apollo — after whom NASA’s pioneering moon missions in the 1960s and 1970s were named. Some legends say that Artemis was responsible for killing the giant huntsman Orion — whom Zeus immortalized in the stars as a constellation — for trying to violate her.

NASA is debuting an entirely new generation of rockets for the mission, known as the Space Launch System (SLS). The rockets will undergo testing for the first time this March during the first phase of the Artemis 1 mission. This phase is comprised of a three-week-long test flight (with no crew members on board) where the Orion spacecraft will fly past the surface of the moon.

Psyche asteroid

NASA has a mission slated for 2022 to explore a Greek-named asteroid called 16 Psyche that contains a double-edged sword — made completely of metal, it boasts enough gold to either make every person on Earth a billionaire — or to collapse the gold market and destabilize the entire global financial world.

The heavenly body Psyche, which was discovered by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis on March 17, 1852, was named after the Greek goddess of the soul who was born a mortal but who married Eros, the god of Love.

Located between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter, Psyche is no average asteroid, which are most often made of rock and/or ice for the most part, but consists of solid metal.

Experts have estimated that the various metals she is made of are worth an eye-popping $10,000 quadrillion.

If all Psyche’s riches were somehow transported back to Earth, their worth would destroy commodity prices and therefore cause the world’s economy – worth at least $75.5 trillion – to collapse as a result.

NASA describes 16 Psyche as a giant metal asteroid, about three times farther away from the Sun than is the Earth. Its average diameter is about 140 miles (226 kilometers) – about one-sixteenth the diameter of Earth’s Moon or about the distance between Los Angeles and San Diego in the US.

NASA’s DART mission

NASA’s DART mission, which launched in November 2021, will finally make its arrival in late September of this year.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test– abbreviated as DART– involves sending a spacecraft out to the two asteroids known as the Didymos binary.

The mission is not addressing any real threat those asteroids pose– but rather testing NASA’s preparedness for any future asteroid that could be on the path to collide with Earth.

ExoMars

The European Space Agency and Roscosmos plan on sending their Mars rover, the Rosalind Franklin, to scan the surface of the red planet in September 2022. Although the launch will take place this fall, the rover is not expected to touchdown on the planet until early 2023.

ExoMars 2022 is the second phase of a collaboration between the two space agencies. The first phase, ExoMars 2016, involved sending a Trace Gas Orbiter to the planet.

 

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