The James Webb Space Telescope, launched December 25, 2021, is the largest and most powerful telescope ever deployed. This $10 billion telescope was designed to collect light in the near-infrared spectrum which is the optimum wavelength to allow for the detection of very distant objects. In fact, the telescope allows astronomers to peer back in time to within 180 million years after the Big Bang which is even before the first galaxies formed!
Perseverance launched July 30, 2020, enroute to Jezero Crater, Mars. Perseverance features a plutonium power source and a variety of instruments to aid the rover in its mission to seek signs of previous life on Mars, as well as collect data to further aid future manned missions there.
Ingenuity, the 4 pound helicopter that was launched with Perseverance, features four specially made carbon-fiber blades, arranged into two rotors that spin in opposite directions at around 2,400 rpm – many times faster than a helicopter on Earth. It is a separate experiment from the rover and is intended to demonstrate technologies needed for flying in the Martian atmosphere.
Is the fourth operational and the second-to-last Space Shuttle built. Atlantis lifted off on its maiden voyage on October 3rd 1985 and became the first Space Shuttle to launch an interplanetary probe to Venus in 1989.
Was the third NASA orbiter to be built. It first launched August 30, 1984 and remained in service for more than 27 years. Among its many accomplishments was the work done on the International Space Station and carrying the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of the planet Mars. InSight launched on May 5, 2018 and successfully landed on Mars on Nov. 26, 2018.
Its finding are expected to shed light on the processes responsible for the formation of Mars, Earth, and even rocky exoplanets more than 4 billion years ago.
The Apollo 11 moon landing required two spacecraft- The lunar module (LM) and command service module (CSM). Once in lunar orbit, the two would separate so the LM could land while the CSM waited in orbit. After launching from the lunar surface, the LM’s ascent stage would rendezvous and dock with the waiting CSM, then the astronauts would transfer back into the main spacecraft and head home. It sounds nearly impossible but that’s the way it was July 20, 1969.
Saturn V: President Kennedy said, “we choose to go to the moon” The Saturn V is how we got there! This 3-stage expendable rocket was developed by NASA to support the US Apollo space program between 1967 and 1973. The “V” referenced the five giant F-1 rocket engines clustered at the bottom of the Saturn V’s first stage.
The Voyager Spacecraft: Consist of two robotic probes that were built by Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and launched by NASA in 1977. Their primary mission was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn. Both Voyagers are now tasked with exploring interstellar space.
Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-size planets orbiting other stars. Named after astronomer Johannes Kepler, the spacecraft was launched on March 7, 2009, into an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit.
Was affectionately known as the moon buggy. It was used on the moon in the last three missions of the American Apollo program (15, 16, 17) during 1971 and 1972. Powered by only two silver-oxide batteries, the Apollo 17 was able to drive for 35.74 km (22.21 miles) across the surface of the moon.
Was launched into low Earth orbit April 24th, 1990. Operating outside the distortion of the Earth’s atmosphere it is able to take extremely high-resolution visible-light images. Hubble has recorded some of the most detailed visible-light images ever, allowing a deep view into space and time.
Was a two part spacecraft used to carry a crew of two from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon and back. The descent stage served as the launch pad for the ascent stage plus it housed the landing gear, engines and fuel needed for landing. Six such craft successfully landed on the Moon between 1969 and 1972.
Mars Exploration Rover NASA's twin rovers, named Spirit and Opportunity, launched separately in 2003 and landed three weeks apart in January 2004. They made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. Although Spirit ceased communicating with Earth in March 2010, Opportunity continues its work on the Red Planet.