While 2021 won’t magically change our reality, there’s plenty to look forward to next year, especially in the realm of space news. Even if you’re not a fan of space, new missions will help us see our place in the world and remind us that we’re part of something bigger; so exploring our universe is a great way to learn about the world.
The CubeSat Particle Aggregation and Collision Experiment (Q-PACE), originally scheduled for launch earlier this month, will launch from Mojave Aerospace Port on January 15, 2021. Q-PACE is a type of small modular spacecraft designed to study the collision and aggregation of small particles in a chamber as part of a three-year experiment in microgravity. The purpose of the mission is to create a database of small particle interactions in microgravity at low speed. This information will help researchers better understand the early coagulation process that led to the formation of the planets.
Also, 2021 will be the beginning of a new chapter in Martian discoveries. The Mars2020 mission kicked off in the summer and the Perseverance rover will finally land on the soil of Etero crater on 18 February 2021. Its mission is expected to last 687 Martian days or an Earth year. The main scientific objectives of the project are “to identify environments capable of supporting microbial life in ancient times, to search for signs of possible microbial life, to collect core and regolith samples and store them on the surface for future missions, and to test oxygen in the Martian atmosphere.” As part of the Mars2020 mission, NASA will also deploy the Ingenuity helicopter to study Martian air.
Also next year, the Parker Solar Probe will make two more circles around Venus – the first time in decades we will get updated data on our neighbour. Launched in 2018, the car-sized probe is set to make its fourth and fifth orbits of Venus in February and October, respectively.
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