Now that the Christmas season is done, I can return to reflecting on astronomy! As I shared with you in the past, I plan on doing a couple more pieces on the forthcoming Artemis Missions. I also thought it would be fun to reflect on space missions slated for 2021. For understandable reasons, Covid-19 has often forced us to reflect on hard things that can lead to an emotional weightiness. Let's take a little time to focus on the positives. Literally, let's allow our minds to drift into space today!
While poking around on EarthSky, I found a piece titled, "6 space missions to look forward to in 2021." Below are the missions. I want to get your feedback on which missions interest you the most and, of those missions, which ones would you like me to write about. With that, let's dream!
Though these probes are already on the way to Mars, a host of technologies will be arriving at our distant neighbor in February. The first interplanetary mission from the United Arab Emirates named Al Amal will be arriving on February 9th, followed by an obiter and rover from the Chinese Space Administration named Tianwen-1. The third sojourner to the "red planet" will be a rover from NASA named Perseverance that will explore the Jezero Crater. Here are summaries of each mission.
Chandrayann-3 is the third in a series of Moon Missions for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). If successful, the mission will send a rover to the Moon to search for subsurface ice! Here's a summary of the mission.
James Webb Telescope
What I am most excited about in 2021 is the launch of the James Webb Telescope (fingers crossed!!). After having the privilege of visiting NASA Goddard and seeing the replica of the James Webb Telescope support structure, I've been waiting with great anticipation to see what this space telescope will deliver! Launch is set for October 31st, the day after my birthday! Oh, how I wish Covid-19 would allow me to see this launch!
Again, I want to thank Sacred Space Astronomy member and good friend Leonard Garcia for the invitation to visit NASA Goddard and his personal tour of the facilities. For those of you who may be interested, I wrote a piece a while back about my experience of visiting NASA Goddard. You can either click here or on my James Webb selfie to read about my visit!
Later this year, the first of the Artemis "prep" missions will take place as the Orion probe will be sent to the Moon and back. The probe will not have a crew, but serve as a kind of "stress test" for the Orion probe. This is scheduled for November of 2021.
So, which one of these missions interests you the most and why? Leave your comments below and, together, let's make 2021 a year of wonder, even amid the ongoing struggles of our national pandemic.