1. International Space Station: International Space Mission
- The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit.
- The ISS program is a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).
- The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.
- The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields.
- The station is suited for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars.
- The ISS maintains an orbit with an average altitude of 400 kilometres (250 mi) by means of reboost manoeuvres using the engines of the Zvezda module or visiting spacecraft. It circles the Earth in roughly 92 minutes and completes 15.5 orbits per day.
2. Hubble Space Telescope: International Space Mission
- The Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as HST or Hubble) is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.
- It was not the first space telescope but it is one of the largest and most versatile, well known both as a vital research tool and as a public relations boon for astronomy.
- The Hubble telescope is named after astronomer Edwin Hubble and is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
- Hubble features a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, and its four main instruments observe in the ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Hubble’s orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere allows it to capture extremely high-resolution images with substantially lower background light than ground-based telescopes.
- It has recorded some of the most detailed visible light images, allowing a deep view into space.
- Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as determining the rate of expansion of the universe.
- The Hubble telescope was built by the United States space agency NASA with contributions from the European Space Agency.
- The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) selects Hubble’s targets and processes the resulting data, while the Goddard Space Flight Center controls the spacecraft.
- Space telescopes were proposed as early as 1923.
- Hubble was funded in the 1970s with a proposed launch in 1983, but the project was beset by technical delays, budget problems, and the 1986 Challenger disaster.
- It was finally launched by Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, but its main mirror had been ground incorrectly, resulting in spherical aberration that compromised the telescope’s capabilities.
- The optics were corrected to their intended quality by a servicing mission in 1993.
3. Juno: Mission At Jupiter (International Space Mission)
- Juno is a NASA space probe orbiting the planet Jupiter.
- It was built by Lockheed Martin and is operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011 (UTC), as part of the New Frontiers program.
- Juno entered a polar orbit of Jupiter on July 5, 2016, to begin a scientific investigation of the planet.
- After completing its mission, Juno will be intentionally deorbited into Jupiter’s atmosphere.
- Juno’s mission is to measure Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere.
- It will also search for clues about how the planet formed, including whether it has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, mass distribution, and its deep winds, which can reach speeds up to 618 kilometres per hour (384 mph).
- Juno is the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after the nuclear powered Galileo orbiter, which orbited from 1995 to 2003.
- Unlike all earlier spacecraft sent to the outer planets, Juno is powered by solar arrays, commonly used by satellites orbiting Earth and working in the inner Solar System, whereas radioisotope thermoelectric generators are commonly used for missions to the outer Solar System and beyond.
- For Juno, however, the three largest solar array wings ever deployed on a planetary probe play an integral role in stabilizing the spacecraft as well as generating power.
4. Artemis Program: International Space Mission
- The Artemis program is an ongoing crewed spaceflight program carried out predominantly by NASA, U.S. commercial spaceflight companies, and international partners such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Australian Space Agency (ASA) with the goal of landing “the first woman and the next man” on the Moon, specifically at the lunar south pole region by 2024.
- NASA sees Artemis as the next step towards the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, laying the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy, and eventually sending humans to Mars.
- In December 2017, Space Policy Directive was signed authorizing the lunar campaign.
- Artemis draws upon ongoing spacecraft programs including Orion, the Lunar Gateway, and Commercial Lunar Payload Services, and adds an undeveloped crewed lander.
- The Orion crew capsule and the 322-foot Space Launch System rocket are being tested during Artemis 1.
- The crewed Artemis 2 mission, scheduled for 2024, will orbit the Moon without making a surface landing, just like Apollo 8 did.
- Since Apollo 17 in December 1972, the Artemis 3 mission will be the first to send astronauts to the Moon.
- A space station dubbed Gateway will be built as part of the Artemis programme and will orbit the Moon.
- For Artemis 3, NASA has chosen Elon Musk’s SpaceX to construct the Moon lander.
- The Space Launch System will serve as the primary launch vehicle for Orion, while commercial launch vehicles are planned for use to launch various other elements of the campaign.
- The “next giant leap — human exploration of Mars” is what NASA refers to as the programme’s ultimate goal.
5. BepiColombo: International Space Mission
- BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to the planet Mercury.
- The mission comprises two satellites launched together: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and Mio (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, MMO).
- The mission will perform a comprehensive study of Mercury, including characterization of its magnetic field, magnetosphere, and both interior and surface structure.
- It was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket on 20 October 2018, with an arrival at Mercury planned for December 2025, after a flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and six flybys of Mercury.
- The mission was approved in November 2009, after years in proposal and planning as part of the European Space Agency’s Horizon 2000+ programme; it is the last mission of the programme to be launched.
The main objectives of the mission are:
- Study the origin and evolution of a planet close to its parent star
- Study Mercury’s form, interior, structure, geology, composition and craters
- Investigate Mercury’s exosphere, composition and dynamics, including generation and escape
- Study Mercury’s magnetised envelope (magnetosphere) – structure and dynamics
- Investigate the origin of Mercury’s magnetic field
- Verify Einstein’s theory of general relativity by measuring the parameters gamma and beta of the parameterized post-Newtonian formalism with high accuracy
6. Habitable Zone Planet Finder: International Space Mission
- A new astronomical spectrograph built by a Penn State-led team of scientists provides the highest precision measurements to date of infrared signals from nearby stars, allowing astronomers to detect planets capable of having liquid water on their surfaces that orbit cool stars outside our Solar System.
- The Habitable Zone Planet Finder (HPF) allows precise measurement of a star’s radial velocity, measured by the subtle change in the color of the star’s spectra as it is tugged by an orbiting planet, which is critical information in the discovery and confirmation of new planets.
- The HPF, located at McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin, targets low-mass planets around cool nearby M dwarf stars in Habitable Zones, regions where liquid water might exist on a planet’s surface.
- M dwarf stars are known to host rocky planets, but these stars are faint due to their size and their magnetic activity manifests as spots and flares, which pose problems for existing visible light instruments.
- The HPF, coupled to the 10-meter Hobby Eberly Telescope, instead uses near-infrared light a type of invisible infrared light closest in wavelength to the visible spectrum — to observe these stars at wavelengths where they are brighter and less active.
7. Perseverance: International Space Mission
- NASA’s rover Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another world has landed safely on the floor of Jezero Crater on Mars.
- The Perseverance rover weighs less than 2,300 pounds and is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.
- It is a part of the mission named ‘Mars 2020’.
- The rover’s mission will be to search for signs of past microbial life. It will also collect samples of Martian rocks and dust, according to the release.
- All of NASA’s previous Mars rovers — including the Sojourner (1997), Spirit and Opportunity (2004) and Curiosity (exploring Mars since 2012) — were named in this way.
Objectives Of The Mission
- Looking for habitability: identify past environments capable of supporting microbial life.
- Seeking bio-signatures: seek signs of possible past microbial life in those habitable environments, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs over time.
- Caching samples: collect core rock and regolith (“soil”) samples and store them on the Martian surface.
- Preparing for humans: test oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere.
(a) Looking for underground water
- Perseverance will carry the Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX).
- The instrument will look for subsurface water on Mars – which, if found, will greatly help the case for a human mission or the cause of a human settlement on Mars.
(b) Testing a helicopter
- The Mars Helicopter is a small drone. It is a technology demonstration experiment: to test whether the helicopter can fly in the sparse atmosphere on Mars.
- The low density of the Martian atmosphere makes the odds of actually flying a helicopter or an aircraft on Mars very low.
(c) Producing oxygen on Mars
- Perseverance will have an instrument – MOXIE, or Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment – that will use 300 watts of power to produce about 10 grams of oxygen using atmospheric carbon dioxide.
- Should this experiment be successful, MOXIE can be scaled up by a factor of 100 to provide the two very critical needs of humans: oxygen for breathing, and rocket fuel for the trip back to Earth.
8. Chang’e-4: International Space Mission
- China’s Chang’e-4 mission delivered a landing platform and a rover named Yutu-2 to the Moon’s far side—the first mission there by any country.
- Chang’e-4 landed in Von Kármán crater, within the Moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin, in December 2018.
- An ancient lunar impact there may have exposed the Moon’s mantle.
- By studying this region directly, scientists will learn more about the early solar system and Earth.
- The mission also demonstrates the feasibility of future human and robotic far side missions.
- The Moon’s quiet, airless far side makes it one of the best places in the inner solar system for science applications like radio astronomy.
- But missions there require a relay satellite, since the far side never faces Earth.
- China launched the Queqiao relay satellite with two SmallSats, Longjiang-1 and 2, in May 2018.
- Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 are continuing to conduct science operations.
- Both vehicles power down during the 2-week lunar night, when temperatures plummet to -173 degrees Celsius (280 degrees Fahrenheit), to avoid damanging their instruments.
- They must also sleep when the Sun is directly overhead to avoid overheating.
9. OSIRIS-Rex: International Space Mission
- OSIRIS-REx is a mission to retrieve a sample from near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu.
- By returning pristine carbon-bearing rocky material from the surface of an asteroid, the science team seeks to understand how primitive asteroids contributed to the origin of planets, and what role they may have played in the origin of life on Earth.
- The mission will map Bennu and its composition in 3D and ground-truth earlier astronomical surveys.
- It will also study how Bennu’s orbit changes when it gets heated by sunlight and radiates the heat away in a different direction at night, a phenomenon known as the Yarkovsky effect.
10. James Webb Space Telescope: International Space Mission
- The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST or Webb) is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity.
- The James Webb Telescope will help astronomers not only look farther out into space, but will also take us back in time. With the new telescope, astronomers are hoping to study the very first stars and galaxies in the universe to understand its secrets.
- The JWST will face the dark side of Earth, away from Sun, and observe the early universe going as far back as the big bang itself.
- The new telescope is at least 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope. And with its golden mirror, astronomers are hoping to catch glimpses of the universe like never before.
- On January 25, it reached the point called the second Lagrange point (L2) between Earth and Sun, which is 15,00,000 km away from Earth. It is more than four times as distant as the moon.
Significance of Lagrange points: These positions in space help objects to stay put as the gravitational pull of two large masses precisely equals the centripetal force required for a small object to move with them. These points in space can be used by spacecraft to reduce the fuel consumption needed to remain in position.
- Search for the first galaxies or luminous objects formed after the Big Bang
- Determine how galaxies evolved from their formation until now
- Observe the formation of stars from the first stages to the formation of planetary systems
- Measure the physical and chemical properties of planetary systems, including our own Solar System, and investigate the potential for life in those systems