2021 saw some significant developments in Mars exploration as well as an increase in US space tourism.
In February, NASA announced that the Mars explorer, Perseverance, had successfully landed on the Red Planet. persevere on a task To collect Martian soil and rocks as part of the search for signs of ancient life.
Perseverance landed in an area of Mars called Jezero Crater. Scientists believe the area contained a large ancient lake. NASA sees the area as a promising place to find potential signs bacterial life. Scientists believe that if life existed on Mars, it would have existed 3-4 billion years ago, when water flowed onto the planet. Perseverance is NASA’s fifth Mars exploration mission.
Perseverance carried to Mars a small experimental helicopter called Ingenuity. In April, NASA announced that Ingenuity had successfully completed takeoff and landing on the planet. She said the trip was historic. This was the first time any aircraft had conducted powered and controlled flight on another planet.
The goal of the creativity was to prove that such flights are possible. NASA says that helicopters and other similar aircraft could be used in the future to assist astronauts in search and collection operations.
Only a few test flights are planned, but the Ingenuity team said the first flights were so successful that they decided to extend the number of test flights. To date, Ingenuity has completed at least 17 flights, with flights advancing in length and distance.
This year, China and the United Arab Emirates sent their first spacecraft to Mars.
In May, China announced that its Tianwen-1 spacecraft had successfully landed on Mars after a seven-month journey. The craft landed in Utopia Planitia, a large flat region located in the northern half of the planet. The six-wheeled explorer studies the planet’s surface soil and atmosphere for signs of ancient life.
The Emirati Hope Probe has been sent to a very high orbit to study Mars. The Emirates Mars Mission aims to study the conditions of the atmosphere and weather around Mars. Among other things, it seeks to help scientists understand how hydrogen and oxygen interact in the planet’s upper atmosphere.
In February, scientists announced that they had put together a new map aimed at identifying the best sources of water on Mars. Water is a critical resource to support future exploration activities on Mars. The map identifies two specific regions on Mars where subsurface ice is likely to be found.
In July, British billionaire Richard Branson launched into space aboard a rocket plane built by Virgin Galactic aerospace company. tourism The company he created. Branson joined two pilots and three other “important specialists” on the flight. Virgin Galactic aims to take citizens to the edge of space to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and Earth observation.
A little more than a week later, American billionaire Jeff Bezos flew to the edge of space on a rocket built by his company, Blue Origin. Three other people made the fast flight with him: Bezo’s brother, a Dutch teenager and an 82-year-old pilot.
The trips by Branson and Bezos have officially launched a new industry that promises any citizen the opportunity to visit space. But such trips will be expensive. Virgin Galactic flight price is 250 thousand dollars. Blue Origin has not announced its price publicly. Both companies have established operating bases called “spaceports” in rural areas of the United States
And earlier this month, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa arrived for a 12-day stay on the International Space Station (ISS). The businessman arrived with an assistant aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The price of that flight has not been announced, but some reports say it could cost up to $50 million.
I’m Brian Lynn.
Brian Lane wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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The words in this story
a task – n. An important project or trip, especially in relation to space travel
bacterial – Related to microbes (very small organisms)
tourism – n. Activity Traveling to a place for fun
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