Top 10 NASA’s Greatest Achievements Of All Time
Ever Since NASA was founded in 1958 by the president of the United States, Eisenhower, there have been many adventures that the researchers and astronauts of the well-known US space agency have gone through and many discoveries that have increased our knowledge about the universe and the Solar System.
Although its space race was impelled by the political tension of the Cold War between the United States and Russia, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Act) has always focused on studying the Solar System.
Now, after spending 60 years collecting information about the Moon, the Sun, and our neighboring stars and planets, the last decades have marked the beginning of outer space and the search for other planets similar to ours.
NASA’s Greatest Achievements Of All Time
Hence, next, we will show you all the 10 most important achievements made by NASA throughout its history. So, now, without wasting time, explore the list we have mentioned below.
The first American astronaut to orbit the Earth
Maybe at this point, orbiting Earth seems to us a more or less simple crossing for an astronaut, but at that time, it was quite an achievement for the United States. Alan Shepard; he was not the first human being to climb into space; as the Russians overtook the Americans, the first astronaut was named Yuri Gagarin.
May 5, 1961, was a day of tension at NASA’s facilities. The launch was stopped several times to re-check the equipment, and weather conditions did not accompany it. Even so, after hours of delays, everything went well.
Shepard reached Earth’s orbit at the height of 187.5 kilometers, spent 15 minutes and 28 seconds traveling about 487 kilometers around the Earth, and then sank in the Atlantic Ocean. However, everything went perfectly, and later, this manned mission was followed by many more.
Apollo 11 and The First Person on the Moon
Possibly the best-known achievement of NASA, more than 500 million people watched the broadcast and were thrilled to see how the first man left his mark on the surface of our satellite, of course, Moon.
As Neil Armstrong came down the stairs and said, “This is a small step for man, but a great step for humanity.” Since then, many more contemplated the “magnificent desert” of the landscape, as described by Buzz Aldrin, one of their comrades of Armstrong, on the trip.
Explorer 1, the first satellite
Immediately after the success of the Russian satellite Sputnik, NASA went to work on its first satellite; it is not always possible to be the first. It took only three months to finish Explorer 1.
As it arrived in space on a rocket and was equipped with an armory of tools that would help scientists study the cosmic rays in Earth’s orbit. Although the photograph looks like a ballpoint pen, Explorer 1 was 203 centimeters long, 15.9 centimeters in diameter, and weighed about 14Kg.
It was launched into space on January 31, 1958, and after five months of orbiting 12.5 times per day, the Explorer made its last transmission on May 23, 1958, but that was not its grand finale. Twelve years later and 58,000 orbits around the Earth, it entered the atmosphere and burned on May 31, 1970.
The results transmitted by the Explorer 1 cosmic ray detector were used to develop the first theories about the radiation belts trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field. In contrast, a second satellite would end up confirming this theory.
Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft
The two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, are the objects created by human being that has reached the farthest in space. At the moment, both are on their way to the Oort Cloud, the last region where objects are still affected by the sun’s gravity, the last frontier of the Solar System.
In 2018, the Voyager 2 probe reached interstellar space. The two were launched into space the same year, in 1977, with just a few days of difference, but by the conditions of each journey, Voyager 1 went ahead, reaching interstellar space in 2012 to 18,000 million kilometers from Earth.
Moreover, NASA calculates that its batteries will only last 26 more years, and to reach the Oort Cloud, there would still be 300 years of passage. In any case, you can not deny them the feat of the trip and their contribution to the study of the Solar System.
Space Shuttle: The First Reusable Spacecraft
Preparing each mission involves millions of dollars to build equipment only used once. President Richard Nixon was in charge of announcing the construction plan for a reusable spacecraft capable of reusing multiple missions.
For being the first, NASA chose the most basic design of a shuttle, with two solid rocket propellers connected to an orbital module and an external fuel tank, and named them Atlantis.
They had to overcome many obstacles, such as the scorching effect of crossing the atmosphere or avoiding landing in the ocean. For the first problem, they designed a layer of ceramic tiles that absorbed the heat, and for the second, they decided that it would land like an airplane or glider on an airstrip.
Atlantis was followed by another four reusable ferries that would total more than 130 missions with stays on the International Space Station (ISS).
Robots conquer Mars
If you think for a moment, then we all know very well that Mars has already been conquered by humans, but indirectly. The planet is increasingly plagued with robots or rovers exploring the landscape and gathering information.
The Mars Pathfinder was the first to step on Martian soil in 1997, followed by others until it became nine robots exploring Mars. Some of the first to arrive are no longer active after spending years working for different reasons and ended up shutting down permanently.
However, NASA planned to send more rovers in 2020, so this small community of explorers will continue to grow until humans are prepared to visit in person.
Juno – Mission to Jupiter
Among all the achievements we will tell you about in this post, this mission is one of the most recent. In August 2011, the Juno mission took off destined for Jupiter, whose primary goal is to study from the planet’s gravitational fields to the atmosphere full of storms that give it that characteristic aspect.
It took six years to reach the planet, although it had already achieved a record, to be the first spacecraft with solar energy that had reached far away. Currently, it continues to orbit around Jupiter in an elliptical manner and gathers crucial information to understand this gigantic planet better.
On April 11, 1970, the Apollo 13 mission took off from Earth in the moon’s direction. About 60 hours later, an explosion closed almost all the systems necessary to keep the astronauts on board alive. The rescue to bring back home alive James Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Hayes became instantly the priority and one of the most difficult challenges that the US space agency has faced.
The tension kept the whole country awaiting the news, and it became a Hollywood movie responsible for popularizing the phrase “Houston, We Have a Problem!”. Many claim that the phrase is an invention of the film industry, but whether real or not, even NASA uses it in their writings on the subject.
The second tank was broken when a fan was turned on, just after the TV broadcast was over and the successful launch had been assured. The tank’s explosion damaged another; immediately after, two of the boat’s fuel cells went out.
Apollo 13 was more than 300,000 kilometers away from Earth, losing oxygen, and with the electric power systems, water, heat, and light were blocked. While the astronauts lived as they could, their only hope was the speed of the control engineers to make months of calculations in days and find a way to go home. Hence, this failed mission is remembered as one of its greatest achievements.
The Hubble Space Telescope
In the age of the Earth’s light telescopes, our vision of the universe was blurred, as astronomers needed sharper images to study the universe and decided to change their strategy.
The atmosphere of the Earth, full of clouds, water, and gas vapors, distorts the light that comes from space, preventing the taking of clear photographs, even if the lens is of the best quality.
The engineers decided to take the photographic equipment out of the earth’s atmosphere, creating space telescopes. And among all those made, Hubble, in honor of the astronomer Edwin Hubble, has been the most important photographer of the US space agency.
We have chosen not to illustrate this section with an image of the telescope, as the most important thing is its impressive photographs. More than 1.5 million astronomical observations and photographs of more than 40,000 space objects have been made since arriving in space in 1990.
The image accompanying this section is the center of a galaxy 40 million light years from our planet Earth. However, the fact is that the Hubble Telescope is not just NASA’s merit, as it was built with the help of the European Space Agency.
Chandra X-ray Observatory
The Chandra telescope occupied for years the title of the most sensitive X-ray telescope in the world. This machine has been able to see things like the fraction of a second in which space particles disappear into a black hole.
Unlike optical telescopes, X-ray telescopes use the highest energy particles, X-rays, instead of visible light to capture the images.
Chandra became 25 times more sensitive than any previous X-ray telescope. This telescope has provided images of supernovas, exploding stars, and black holes. With all this information, the scientific community has improved their understanding of the life and death of stars, among many other data about the universe.
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