Space scientists have discovered just how much they can accomplish when they work together, with incredible feats achieved this year through collaborations with commercial industry and foreign nations. We bring to you, what we feel are the top 3 outstanding moments of 2022 in space (If you want to add something we missed, please feel free to share in the comments below).

So let’s start:

Deployment of James Webb Space Telescope

Three-quarter view of the James Webb Space Telescope

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, which reached its L2 Lagrange point for the first several months, was the most significant event of 2022. The telescope gradually unfolded the folded construction during flight, then upon arrival, calibrated the instruments and cooled to ultra-low temperatures. On July 12, humanity witnessed the first remarkable photographs taken by a telescope, the sharpness and clarity of which exceeded engineers’ expectations. Astronomers anticipate that James Webb will usher in a new era in our understanding of the universe by displaying detailed photos of objects billions of light-years away.

NASA’s Mega Moon Rocket

An expanded view of an artist rendering of the 130-metric-ton configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), shows the many different elements of the rocket design. Used primarily to launch heavy cargo, this two-stage vehicle will be the largest rocket ever built and will enable exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbits.

The Space Launch System, or SLS, is a massive rocket that weighs 2,600 tonnes and stands taller than the Statue of Liberty. It made its first flight into space this year, paving the way for humanity to return to the Moon. After several delays, a massive rocket launched into space on November 16, sending the Orion spacecraft on a long journey around the Moon and back to Earth. This mission, known as Artemis I, is a test trip that marks NASA’s return to deep space exploration under the supervision of astronauts. The campaign’s major goal is to finally send humanity to the Moon, and potentially even Mars.

“Shot” at an Asteroid

Schematic of the DART mission shows the impact on the moonlet of asteroid (65803) Didymos. Post-impact observations from Earth-based optical telescopes and planetary radar would, in turn, measure the change in the moonlet’s orbit about the parent body.

NASA tested a “space weapon” aimed at protecting humanity this year. The DART mission sought to explore the feasibility of altering the asteroid’s trajectory in order to protect the Earth from collision. The endeavour was a success. On September 26, the DART spacecraft collided with a Dimorphos, a football-sized asteroid about 10 million kilometres from Earth. Astronomers utilised ground-based telescopes to observe the change in its orbit a few weeks later. The asteroid’s orbit around 65803 Didymos was decreased by 32 minutes, which was 10 minutes faster than predicted. The spaceship, which weighed around 500 kg, was devoid of explosives. Its weapon was nothing more than its own body and pure physical energy. The collision took place at a speed of 20,000 km/hr.

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