Some of NASA’s most anticipated space projects are set to launch in 2022. Expect the first photographs and science results from the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope this year, as well as the launch of a new mission to examine an undiscovered world and the planned collision of a NASA spacecraft with an asteroid’s moon.
In New Year 2022, a slew of new space missions will be launched, ensuring a year full of new discoveries across the solar system and beyond. Prepare for further flights by NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, which is still flying well past its predicted lifespan, and the start of the Perseverance rover’s examination of the interesting remains of an ancient river delta on Mars in the summer. Samples taken there could indicate whether organic compounds linked to life or possibly microfossils are present on Mars.
Spectacular photographs from Juno mission on their way
More spectacular photographs from NASA’s Juno mission, which has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016, are on their way. The spacecraft is now observing several of Jupiter’s 79 moons as part of its extended mission. In September, it will pass close by Europa, one of the planet’s most fascinating moons. Scientists are fascinated by Europa because it has a vast ocean beneath its ice cover that could support life. Occasionally, plumes of ice explode into space from holes in the ice. Juno might be able to see the plumes in action.
James Webb Space Telescope’s first photographs and data in June & July
In June and July, the James Webb Space Telescope will release its first photographs and scientific data. The telescope is on a mission to glimpse inside exoplanet atmospheres and look further into the universe than ever before. In August, NASA will launch the Psyche spacecraft on a four-year trip to a previously undiscovered potato-shaped world in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The expedition will investigate a metal-rich asteroid that is only visible to terrestrial and space-based observatories as a blurry blur.
Prepare for another first in September, when NASA crashes the DART spacecraft into the moon of an asteroid to modify the motion of a near-Earth asteroid. Dimorphos, a small moon orbiting the near-Earth asteroid Didymos, will be the target of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test. This will be the first full-scale demonstration of this technology for planetary defence by the agency. Despite the fact that this asteroid and its moon pose no threat to Earth, it’s a good opportunity to put asteroid deflection technology to the test.
NASA’s Artemis programme
Meanwhile, NASA’s Artemis programme, which will land the first woman and first person of colour on the moon in 2025, is slated to be put to the test in 2022. The stacked spacecraft and rocket will undergo a wet dress rehearsal in January, which will entail a full set of operations to load propellant into the fuel tanks and a launch countdown — practically everything required for a launch without actually launching.
Artemis I, an uncrewed mission that will serve as the initial stage in the ambitious programme, is expected to launch in March or April. During the voyage, the Orion spacecraft will launch atop the SLS rocket to reach the moon and journey hundreds of miles beyond it, further than any human-carrying spacecraft has ever gone. This mission will span a few weeks, with Orion splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at the end.