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Look back at a fascinating year in space

From the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope and the Artemis I lunar mission, to the first image of a supermassive black hole and the mission to deflect an asteroid, the past 12 months are now considered one of the most productive periods in astronomy. A look back at nine events that defined space research.

The end of 2021 and 2022 will be marked by crucial space discoveries.

After sending the most powerful space telescope ever designed Voidthe NASA She shared with us privately throughout the year that were all more creative and amazing than the other photos. From Jupiter’s moons of Jupiter to the “Pillars of Creation,” not to mention the deepest infrared image of the universe ever taken, the US space agency has dazzled amateurs and seasoned astronomers alike.

The image of the supermassive black hole, as well as the success of the Artemis 1 test mission, are other promising events in understanding and “conquering” these extraterrestrial lands. In pictures, FRANCE 24 reviews nine events that have shaped our perception of space.

December 25, 2021: The James Webb Space Telescope lifts off from Kourou

© NASA Television

A year ago on Christmas Day, the James Webb telescope — the largest and most powerful telescope ever sent into space — was I set out from Kourou on a mission that was declared revolutionary.

Designed to give a glimpse into the very first moments of the universe, this telescope is located approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth and was encased in an Ariane 5 rocket.

In one year of activity, he has provided many images that will go down in history and make 2022 one of the richest and most exciting years of space research.

A supermassive black hole has been photographed for the first time at the center of our galaxy

© European Southern Observatory, AFP

On May 12, a team of international astronomers revealedIt is the first image of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky WaySagittarius A*, three years after the first image of a black hole in the distant, giant galaxy M87.

The existence of Sagittarius A* was discovered in 1974 thanks to an unusual radio source in the heart of our galaxy. This black hole has a mass of about four million suns and is 27,000 light-years away from Earth.

Technically, you can’t see a black hole, because the object is so dense and its gravitational pull is so strong that not even light can escape from it. But scientists have been able to spot very distant and faint objects thanks to the virtual reproduction of a kind of giant telescope.

The James Webb Telescope has provided the deepest image of the universe ever taken

© NASA, ESA, AP

After years of waiting, the first — and breathtaking — image of the James Webb Telescope was revealed on July 11 to the eyes of the world. The first scientific and color photograph It shows galaxies that formed shortly after the Big Bangmore than thirteen billion years ago.

Six months after the most powerful space telescope ever launched into orbit, US President Joe Biden hailed the “historic” day. NASA said this shot is “the deepest and clearest infrared image of the universe ever taken.”

The image, which is full of detail, was taken during an observation time of 12.5 hours. Thus appear thousands of galaxies, in the cores of which “certain structures have never been seen before,” adds the agency responsible for the bulk of the civilian space program of the United States.

So the research work is just the beginning. “Researchers will soon begin to learn more about the masses, ages, histories, and compositions of these galaxies.”

The beauty of Jupiter has been revealed in never-before-seen images

© NASA via Associated Press

More great photos. And again thanks to James Webb. Jupiter pictures, taken a month ago by the space telescope and published by NASA scientists on August 22. Unexpected images reveal the largest planet in the solar system like never before.

One particularly stunning shot: It shows the aurorae at the planet’s poles, these luminous phenomena caused by solar storms, as well as two small Jovian moons (artificial satellites of Jupiter), called Amalthea and Adrastea, against a glittering backdrop of galaxies, and its faint, luminous rings.

Dart mission: NASA managed to deflect an asteroid

© John Hopkins, AFP

The head of NASA described the event as a “defining moment for planetary defence.” Thanks to kinetic energy, the probe launched by the US space agency, at the end of September, was able to reach Deflects an asteroid.

The Dart spacecraft traveled for ten months before colliding with the asteroid Dimorphos, an asteroid 160 meters in diameter that was 11 million kilometers from Earth at the time of impact.

This unprecedented test mission was to allow humanity to learn how to protect itself from a potential asteroid, according to NASA.

The James Webb Telescope captures stunning ‘Pillars of Creation’

© NASA, ESA via AP

We no longer offer him, and these photos are still his work. On October 19, the James Webb telescope was unveiled His first shot of the “Pillars of Creation” icon.Huge structures of gas and dust teem with forming stars

Thousands of twinkling stars illuminate the entire picture, as these giant brown-orange pillars stand out in the vastness of the universe.

At the end of many of the columns, areas of intense red sparkle with lava. NASA explained in a press release that these are “evolving ejecta of stars,” only a few hundred thousand years old. These “young stars periodically shoot out supersonic jets that collide with clouds of material, like these thick pillars.”

The Pillars of Creation are located 6,500 light-years from Earth, in our Milky Way galaxy. Specifically, they are found in the Eagle Nebula.

NASA releases the sound of a giant meteorite crashing into Mars

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/AFP

An audio recording of a 4-magnitude earthquake caused by Meteor impact on Mars Aired October 27. Blocks of ice were violently thrown onto the surface to excavate a hole about 150 meters in diameter and 20 meters deep.

The Insight probe and its seismometer, which landed on Mars nearly four years ago about 3,500 kilometers from the collision site, made it possible to detect tremors.

The origin of this Martian earthquake, which occurred on December 24, 2021, has been confirmed for only the second time by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). In orbit around the planet, it took pictures of the newly formed crater within 24 hours of the event.

The massive Artemis rocket takes off for the first time to the Moon

© Malcolm Denmark, Florida Today via AP

After two failed attempts over the summer, NASA set out, on November 16, to The first test flight of its new giant rocket to the moon For Artemis Mission 1.

Fifty years after the last Apollo mission, the Artemis mission will orbit the Moon without landing there and without an astronaut on board to ensure the craft is safe for the future crew.

It should mark a great start for a program that plans specifically to send the first woman and first person of color to the moon. The goal is to establish a permanent human presence there, in preparation for a trip to Mars.

December 11, 2022: After traveling around the Moon, the Orion spacecraft returns to Earth

© Caroline Breiman, AFP

After just over 25 days in space and traveling around the moon, NASA’s Orion spacecraft has landed11, in the Pacific Ocean, ending the Artemis 1 test mission.

In total, the spacecraft has traveled more than 2.2 million kilometers in space since it lifted off on November 16, during the maiden flight of NASA’s new massive SLS rocket.

Orion flew past the moon just 130 kilometers from its surface, and ventured more than 430,000 kilometers from our planet, farther than any previously habitable spacecraft.

The recovery of the capsule was to allow the collection of much data crucial to the following missions. First by detailing the ship’s condition after its voyage, but also by analyzing recordings of acceleration sensors and vibrations that occurred on board, or the performance of an anti-radiation vest.

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