The Top 10 Moments of 2012 for Space Exploration
Artist’s rendition of one of the Voyager spacecraft.
Image credit: NASA/JPL
For Venture Beat’s science section, 2012 was the year space exploration made a comeback. To support its assertion, the website released a list of the top 10 moments of the year that made this generation “share an enthusiasm and wonder a previous generation experienced with the first moon landing.”
The last place went to NASA’s interactive images of Earth at night dubbed “Black Marble.” Then, research around Dyson spheres and warp propulsion (warp drives) got the ninth place, thrilling all Star Trek fans.
Launching satellites from the International Space Station for the first time got the eight place in the list, followed by the development of Internet-like communications that make possible for astronauts to send commands to a surface robot from an orbiting spacecraft and receive data and images back from that robot.
In sixth place was the retirement of the Endeavor space shuttle as a celebration for its prolific operational life. And, the Voyager mission finally reaching interstellar space after 35 years of launch, was number five on the list.
NASA’s plans to take humans to Mars in 2021 got it the fourth place, and Felix Baumgartner’s dive from outside the stratosphere – 120,000 feet – landed on the third place.
Then, in second place was the moment when SpaceX successfully completed the first commercial resupply mission for the ISS. And, finally, the single, most exciting moment of the year for space exploration, according to Venture Beat, was the Curiosity Mars rover landing safely in the red planet and beginning operations.
It was no doubt an exciting year for space exploration but also one to think about the future of the field. In the United States, a look back at the country’s achievements, mishaps and plans for the coming years, got the Space Foundation to release a report about the American civil space program where it pointed out the lack of focus and consistent primary goals.
Additionally, the threat of budget cuts continues as the year reaches its end and the industry fears for what 2013 might bring.