Sara Farish presents the top four things we’ve managed to send into space since we’ve first set our sights on the skies
The latest in a long line of expeditions to our neighbour Mars, the rover Curiosity takes over from the incumbent Spirit and Opportunity Rovers. Whilst Opportunity will continue to run, Curiosity aims to find if Mars currently or has ever harboured life, and to research the climate and geology of the planet. Curiosity has already found evidence that water once existed on Mars and has recently deployed its drill – the first human invasion of humans into Mar’s pristine surface. It is hoped that, minus the rover falling prey to Martian tripods, Curiosity’s discoveries will pave the way for manned exploration of the red planet.
The Dragon spacecraft is run by SpaceX, the private company contracted by NASA to take supplies to the International Space Station. With the space shuttle retired, and never quite reaching its promised ‘shuttle’ like cheap and frequent potential, it is hoped Dragon will help NASA continue to operate in space. Dragon Rider is the manned version of Dragon, designed to carry a crew of 7 and cargo and to dock at the International Space Station for 180 days.
The Voyager space probes were launched in 1977, taking a tour of the outer planets, using them as a gravitational slingshot before heading out into the solar system. Both spacecraft contain a golden disc containing information about humanity to whom it may concern. Voyager takes with it greetings and our position in the universe. Voyager 1 is the most distant man made object in the universe, having recently passed the edge of the solar system and into inter-stellar space.
International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is a satellite built in sections, from modules first launched in 1998. The ISS has been continuously occupied for 12 years, and has been visited by astronauts of 12 nations. When NASA retired the space shuttle programme in 2011, Russia became the only nation still able to send manned missions to the ISS. The station is divided into two main parts the Russian and USA capsule, the USA capsule being inhabited by many nations. The space station carries which could not be conducted on Earth and allows a long term study into the affects of zero gravity on the human body. The space station also gives us an idea of the challenges faced by humans permanently inhabiting space with many videos available detailing day to day difficulties such as hair washing. The crew of the International Space Station may celebrate Christmas many times a year depending on the calendars followed by the home nations of the crew.