It was a rough year on Earth in 2016 but we have lots to celebrate during this next revolution around the sun. Everything from eclipses and meteor showers to historic space missions with a lot more in between. Here’s a list of gifts from nature and science in 2017.
1. Juno explores Jupiter
Patrolling one of the Galaxy’s most dangerous spots is already ambitious enough, but doing so 37 times is definitely insane. That’s exactly what Juno mission is doing this year. It went into orbit around Jupiter earlier in 2016 and now, it has already started to show what rests beneath the clouds that form the Gas Giant. As this vessel threads beneath the hazardous radiation belts around the planet, scanning just 5000km from the clouds, we will have unequaled close-ups of the structure and chemical composition of the planet. Thanks to the Junocam, those close-ups will be as attractive to view as they’re important for science and research.
2. SpaceX Test Launch
Last year, SpaceX entered history books by landing the Falcon 9 1st stage rocket after it launched satellites into space. Sadly, it ended when a rocket blew up on the launchpad.
This year, space enthusiasts are looking out for the next launch. If SpaceX can recycle its rockets instead of discarding them, it could introduce a new era of low-priced space travel in the future.
3. Great American Eclipse
A Solar Eclipse will be visible on August 21st while totality will be noticeable in a narrow band reaching across the continental USA. In anticipation of this event, NASA has built a super-accurate model of the Moon for the eclipse path.
4. TESS to Launch
Because of the Kepler Spacecraft, today, we know of lots of alien worlds. In 2017, NASA plans to launch the successor mission Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS. Targeting over 200,000 stars across the sky, the device hopes to find about 500 Earth-sized biospheres that momentarily pass between us and blur the starlight. These alien worlds will be a lot closer to us than planets spotted by Kepler. This implies that Earth-based telescopes will be able to measure contents of the atmosphere and see if its conditions are suitable for life as it is on earth.
5. Chinese Mission to the Moon
This country will continue to improve its hastily developing space know-how with a trial return trip from the Moon. The mission will launch this year with a goal of both landing and then returning 2 kg of lunar regolith to the Earth. If positive, this effort will be the first time that a substance has been returned from the heavenly bodies since Apollo 17 and Gene Cernan left the Moon 45 years ago.
6. Grand Finale Around Saturn
This year, on the 15th September, Cassini spacecraft will end its two-decade-long mission to Saturn. It will do so by combusting into the atmosphere of the gas giant. It’ll also mark the end of the remarkably valuable scientific mission.
These few reasons are enough to celebrate the year and what nature and technology has in store for you.