The New York Times: what will happen to space exploration in 2021
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The New York Times: what will happen to space exploration in 2021

5 January , 14:00Science
The New York Times invites everyone who is interested in the space industry or just loves to watch the starry sky, enter into their calendar the most important events of 2021, one way or another related to space.

February 9: UAE spacecraft to enter Mars orbit

In July, three spacecraft were launched from Earth in the direction of Mars. Hope representing the United Arab Emirates should be the first to arrive. The purpose of the mission is to study in detail the Martian weather.

February 10: China's Tianwen-1 mission in Mars orbit

The Chinese ship Tianwen-1 will arrive on Mars second - for the PRC this will be the first experience of traveling to another planet. Immediately after arrival, the robotic orbiter will carry out a number of preparatory work, and in May it will try to land its rover on Mars. So far, only NASA has succeeded in landing on the surface of Mars, so if Tianwen-1 succeeds, this will be another sign of China's technological progress.

Photo:Wu Hong/EPA, via Shutterstock

Feb 18: NASA Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars

Finally, the third guest on Mars will be NASA's robotic satellite Perseverance, carried by the experimental Ingenuity helicopter. NASA is set to break its own record for successful Mars landings.

March 1: OSIRIS-REX spacecraft will embark on a return trip to Earth

In October, NASA's OSIRIS-REX spacecraft landed on asteroid Bennu and took samples of minerals and soil from its surface. OSIRIS-REX will begin its journey home in March or later in the spring. The sample capsule should be on Earth in 2023.

March 20: vernal equinox

One of those moments that happens twice a year when daytime is equal to nighttime around the globe. Many people celebrate the vernal equinox as the first day of spring.

March 29: Boeing plans to conduct another orbital test of its Starliner spacecraft

NASA has selected two companies to build new spaceships that will carry astronauts to the space station. The first of these, SpaceX, has successfully transported humans into orbit twice already. Boeing still has problems: the first uncrewed test flight at the end of 2019 almost ended in disaster. Boeing's Starliner is scheduled to complete a second unmanned test flight in March, and has done so successfully. Then he will be able to go on the next trip into orbit with people on board.

April 22: Lyrid's meteor shower reaches its peak

The maximum activity of the Lyrid meteor shower this year will occur on April 22 at 18 hours 4 minutes UTC. Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will have a chance to see up to 20 meteors per hour. Lyrids are notable for the fact that some meteors do not burn out immediately, but leave a trail in the sky within a few seconds.

May 5-6: Peak of the Eta-Aquarids meteor shower

This meteor shower, which is the remnant of Halley's comet, is also called the May Aquarids. It is observed every year from the end of April to the end of May, and the peak of activity this year falls on the night of May 5-6. With good visibility from the Northern Hemisphere, it will be possible to observe up to 30 meteors per hour.

May 26: total lunar eclipse and supermoon

Sometimes this phenomenon is called "superblood moon": the full moon is closer than usual to the Earth, and the shadow from our planet, falling on the surface of the moon, paints it reddish. At such times, the Moon from Earth looks about 14% larger and 30% brighter. Alas, for most of Russia, the eclipse will be in the daytime, it will be visible in the evening only in the Far East.

Photo:Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

June 10: solar eclipse over the North Pole

A rather rare annular solar eclipse is a situation when the Moon is too far from the Earth to completely cover the Sun, but at the same time it completely "fits" inside it. It will be possible to see the ring of fire in all its glory from Canada, Greenland and Russia - as well as from the North Pole. The next such eclipse will occur on June 21, 2039.

Photo:Ferdinandh Cabrera/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

June 21: summer solstice

From the point of view of science - the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, when this half of the Earth tilts towards the Sun.

July 5: Earth at Aphelion

Paradoxically, at a time when the summer heat is usually in the Northern Hemisphere, our planet is farthest from the Sun in its elliptical orbit - at a distance of 152.1 million km . The opposite phenomenon, perihelion, at which the Earth and the Sun are as close as possible, took place on January 2.

July 22: DART mission to explore asteroids begins

The asteroid Didyme and its tiny satellite orbiting its "partner" are harmless to earthlings and very easy to observe. Therefore, NASA employees decided to use them for tests that will make it possible to understand whether it is possible to prevent a collision in the event of dangerous encounters with asteroids in the future. To do this, the DART impactor probe, launched in July, will approach the Didyma satellite and crash into it in September at a speed of about 6.5 km / s.

July 28: Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower peak

This meteor shower can be observed from mid-July to mid-August. It appeared during the destruction of a space object, from which the comets Marsden and Kracht were formed. The Southern Delta Aquarids are a medium-sized stream that can see up to 20 meteors per hour.

August 12-13: Perseid Peak

The meteor shower in the constellation Perseus can be observed from the Northern Hemisphere from July 17 to August 24. Star rain - 60 meteors per hour - is a plume of the remnants of the "tail" of Comet Swift-Tuttle.

September 22: autumnal equinox

Another point in Earth's orbit when the Sun equalizes daytime and nighttime lengths across the globe. First day of autumn.

October 16: NASA sends Lucy mission to study Trojan asteroids

Almost all planets in the solar system have Trojan asteroids. They revolve in the same orbit as this or that planet, but never collide with it. Scientists are interested in them, among other things, because they may contain signs of organic matter and water ice. Currently, 7681 such objects have been discovered in the solar system, 7642 of them are in the orbit of Jupiter. NASA plans to send a mission in October to study Jupiter's Trojan asteroids. The meeting with the first will take place in 2025.

Photo:NASA/JPL-Caltech

October 21: Orionids Peak

Like the May Eta-Aquarids, this meteor shower is associated with Halley's comet: the particles that can be seen are its debris. Orionids are few in number: only 15-20 meteors per hour, but these meteors are very bright due to their high speed.

October 31: James Webb Space Telescope to be launched into orbit

An orbital observatory will finally be launched in the fall to replace Hubble, the fruit of NASA-led 17-nation collaboration. The main mirror of "James Webb", assembled from 18 segments, has a diameter of 6.5 meters. It will be protected from overheating by a heat shield. It is planned that the first works will begin in 2021. The objects of observation of the telescope will be planets and small bodies of the Solar system, exoplanets and protoplanetary disks, galaxies and galaxy clusters, as well as quasars. The telescope is expected to operate for at least five years.

Photo:NASA Goddard

November 17-18: Peak of the Leonids meteor shower

This meteor shower, which is the remnants of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, borrowed its name from the constellation Leo: from Earth it seems that "rain" is coming from there. With a fortunate coincidence, it can see up to 15 meteors per hour.

December 13-14: Geminids meteor shower

The most powerful "rain" of meteors in 2021 will happen in December: at the peak time you can see up to 120 objects per hour. The Geminids are what remains of the asteroid Phaethon.

December 21: winter solstice

The beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, when this half of the Earth deviates as much as possible from the Sun.

December 21-22: Peak of the Ursis meteor shower

Remains of Comet Tuttle, when you can see up to 10 meteors per hour. In general, the Ursids fall on the period from 17 to 22 December.

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