In 2022, space missions will go very far

After a prosperous 2021, marked by the chaos of Mars missions and numerous discoveries about asteroids, 2022 appears to be heading down that path. What are the highlights to look forward to? Answer with this small selection.

Starship – SpaceX

Earth’s orbit, January

2021 has been a year of amazing results for SpaceX’s Starship. The heavy missile flew at an altitude of up to ten kilometers several times from the base in Boca Chica, Texas, and one of the prototypes, SN15, until I was able to land safely in May.

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The (very) big rockets are back

In 2022, the giant rocket will not launch alone but It will be installed On a 69-meter rocket with 29 engines, Super Heavy. The whole (also known as Starship) will form a giant rocket one hundred meters high. The next generation of reusable engines running on methane and liquid oxygen (not kerosene), called the Raptors, are said to provide the thrust needed to eject more than 100 tons of payload.

The spacecraft will have to collect tests “by the dozens” according to Elon Musk in order to achieve its goal, which is to obtain an orbit of one hundred kilometers, separate its two phases, which will descend to Earth, and be ready to fly again. The heavy launcher should send satellites into orbit from 2023, before moving on to more ambitious missions, such as the Artemis program, NASA’s mission to the moon. The US agency has signed a contract with SpaceX, which in particular will have to design a lander and deliver it to lunar orbit using its giant rocket.

Artemis I – NASA

moon, february

Humanity is ready to return to the moon. This is the message behind this The mission of Artemis I It is scheduled by NASA after ten years of preparation and many uncertainties. This first version consists of a round trip in orbit around the Moon, a 25-day journey without any human on board.

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However, the stakes for NASA are enormous because they are first in twos. This will be Orion’s first flight in this configuration. The capsule, which made a test flight in 2014, will undergo testing on this life-size flight before welcoming the astronauts.

Artemis I will also celebrate the opening of the heavy launch pad space launch system The long-promised SLS (SLS) rocket is more than 100 meters long and has a complex history, says Marc Toussaint, lecturer at the EPFL in Lausanne: “It has almost been replaced by the SpaceX Starship. Yet it is The cornerstone of NASA’s lunar program and beyond. If all goes well, it will fly again to send astronauts to the Moon by 2025, preparing for the next manned flight to Mars.”

The SLS won’t unload: About a dozen nanosatellites will accompany Orion to probe the Moon. NASA will also take the opportunity to test the track and communications in preparation for manned flights. In short, more than half a century after Apollo, this is where it all begins again.

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Space exploration, Pierre Bresson’s blog

ExoMars 2022 – European Space Agency

Mars (planet), September

after curiousityAnd determination And Zurong, a new robot will soon survey the surface of Mars. the wanderer Rosalind Franklin It will fly towards the Red Planet this fall and land on the surface in June 2023 as part of the ExoMars mission.

Waiting is hard because Exomars has been unlucky since its inception, between fail From the Schiaparelli lander that crashed in 2016, and the many delays to the rover, first planned for 2018, then 2020. Is it the occasion this time? According to the European Space Agency (ESA), yes. Everything is ready and Rosalind Franklin will finally be able to carry out her mission.

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A simple task to sum it up: whether or not the planet Mars is inhabited by living organisms. So the craft will land in Oxia Planum, a 4-billion-year-old basin that is said to have seen a lake pass, and then lava flows that would have preserved any biological fingerprints.

To do this, in his toolbox will be a drill capable of digging up to two meters for samples that will go to his small laboratory. There, a chromatograph, infrared spectrometer and laser examine everything in hopes of finding traces of water or organic matter. This ability to go deep makes him far from tenacious, which can take carrots from just a few inches.


Psychology – NASA

Asteroid (16) Psyche, August

(16) Psyche is not an asteroid like any other: it is made largely of metal. probe The namesake must go to see it closely to understand how this 300 km long pebble, one of the largest in the asteroid belt, was formed. The star raises many questions because the distance that separates it from us – 450 million kilometers, between Mars and Jupiter – can hardly be seen with the best telescopes.

The first observations suggested that this nearly spherical rock was entirely mineral, suggesting that it may have been the core of a planet stripped of its mantle and outer layers. In the end, only half of it will be made of metal, which makes it especially dense and interesting.

The Psyche probe is fairly classic with a multispectral imager and spectrometer, but it also includes a magnetometer. The instrument will have to determine if the asteroid is emitting a magnetic field, which would settle the question of whether it was the core of an ancient planet.

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The ship will also carry a laser transmitter and receiver. This communication technology, which is more efficient than radio waves, will be tested. This will be the first time that this type of communication has been practiced outside of lunar orbit.

And also…

Other events expected in 2022 include the arrival of two space telescopes that will sustain the long-awaited James Webb Company. Euclid, which aims to survey more than a billion galaxies, including some of the most distant ones, should be sent by the European Space Agency. Japan, for its part, will monitor the X-ray clusters of galaxies using XRISM, which will monitor the largest structures in the universe.

Not forgetting also in 2022, the coronation Dart mission. The probe, launched on November 24, is scheduled to reach its target, the asteroid Demorphos, by the end of September or early October. If all goes as planned, the impactor will hit the surface until it disturbs the path of this large stone. The consequences of this effect will be closely observed in a few years since the Hera probe left to find out the extent of the damage in 2024.

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