||NASA launches the Mars Odyssey
spacecraft. It successful entered the orbit of Mars in October of that
||NASA launches an infra red
telescope now known as the Spitzer Space telescope. It uses its
detectors to see beyond dense celestial clouds that fog distant stars
and galaxies. It is the fourth of NASA's great Observatories which
includes the Hubble Space telescope, Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.
||NASA scientists discover a
bubble sort of enclosure that surrounds the solar system, created by
supersonic wind from the sun mixing with the gases from outside of the
solar system. Scientists say that Voyager 1&2 are going to, or
already have burst through a bubble (called the termination shock) and
are heading towards that second and third bubbles called the Helosheath
and the Bow Shock respectively but is not expect to break through the
Heliopause (the outer layer of the second boundary) until in another 20
|The probe called Stardust,
sent by NASA to study the comet 'Wild2' flew past the comet after nearly
four years in space. The probe has photographed the comet and is
expected to collect samples of the comet's tail then to return it to
Earth for research in early 2006.
||Scientists discover the effects
of two galaxies colliding into each other using the Chandra X-ray
Observatory. Billion of years ago, two galaxies collided violently, one
small, the other large; generating a trail of black holes and neutron
stars. Over hundreds of millions of years, the trail is extended to a
length of some 50 000 light years. NGC4261 (discovered in May 6
2002)(the larger galaxy which swallowed the smaller one) is about 100
million light years from Earth.
|The People’s Republic of China
becomes the third country to ever (independently) send a human into
space with the launch of the Shen-Zhou 5, the pilot of which;
Yang Li-Wei has become something of a national icon and hero following
||The English space probe
Beagle2; named after Charles Darwin’s ship the Beagle, was
lost after it failed to transmit a reply when it had landed on Mars. It
was piggybacked to Mars on the ESA’s Mars Express orbiter, and
was supposed to have opened up its airbags when it landed, then to burn
nearby soil samples to check its composition. Nearly two thirds of all
space probes sent to Mars have ended in failure; even reaching Mars is a
feat in itself.
|Jan 3, 2003
||NASA's rover explorer 'Spirit'
warmed up on this day, taking its first black and white pictures of the
Martian landscape. This $US400 million space craft uses solar panels to
power itself and is expected to function for at least 90 days, crammed
with eight high resolution cameras and geology instruments such as
microscopes, spectrometers and drills which will aid in the exploration
of the Martian landscape. This landing was achieved through the
deployment of parachutes and the firing of retro rockets to slow down
its speed, then moments before impact airbags inflated beneath Spirit
and following a series of bounces and rolls (up to four stories high),
the lander settled into the surface. Spirit is to be followed
closely by its sister lander, the 'Opportunity.' Each of these
twins are designed to be able to explore nearly as much territory in one
day as the 1997 NASA lander Sojourner achieved in three months.
||The United States is set to
send robotic probes to the moon by this year which is the first of the
series of plans following with the first manned mission planned for 2014
and the ‘return to the moon?in 2020.
||The United States plans to
complete the International Space Station, a collaborative space project
between many countries to build a space station, by this time and also
to retire the aging shuttle fleet after nearly 30 years of service.
||The Crew Exporation Vehicle (CEV)
is planned to be developed and tested by 2008 and to conduct its first
manned mission by 2014; to be the first manned space craft since the
Apollo moonshots to explore beyond the Earth’s orbit. Even though its
purpose would be to leave Earth orbit, the CEV will still function to
ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station after the
space shuttle is retired.
||Humans are due to return to the
moon in 2015, for the conducting of extended missions and to further
explore the lunar environment for resources that may be harvested to
turn into rocket fuel or breathable air.
||The United States proposes to
‘return to the moon?by 2020 following the robotic moon probe and the
manned moon landings for 2008 and 2015. This planned date also coincides
with the time that the People’s Republic of China’s intends to send
taikonauts to the moon.