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2011 will go down as a landmark year for space exploration. From end-of-an-era missions to incredible milestones to breathtaking discoveries, human civilization is reaching out further and more often than ever before from our pale blue dot in the universe. In this year astronomers could discover planets in other solar systems, also amateur astronomers discovered new asteroids, comets, and some comet fly at minimum distance from our planet. In this year we took a moment to celebrate a half-century of manned space flight. Below represent 10 top events of 2011:
1. The Space Shuttle Atlantis landed at Kennedy Space Center just before dawn on July 21, 2011, and marked the end of NASA’s Space Shuttle program.
2. NASA has accepted plans by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to launch the robotic Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s vision of space travel is bold. With its reusable Dragon spacecraft, it plans to take over supply missions to the International Space Station starting in February 2012, and CEO Elon Musk has said the company will enable humans to set foot on Mars within 10 years.
3. NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the habitable zone, the region where liquid water could exist on a planet surface.The newfound planet in the habitable zone is called Kepler-22b. Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away. While the planet is larger than Earth, its orbit of 290 days around a sun like star resembles that of our world. The planet’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler. Of the 54 habitable zone planet candidates reported in February 2011, Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed.
4. The International Space Station is complete. With the space shuttle grabbing most of the attention this year, it was almost overlooked that during the final mission of Discovery, the assembly of the International Space Station was essentially finished. NASA says the shuttle’s delivery of the “Permanent Multipurpose Module” was its last contribution to the structure.The ISS was originally planned to cease operations in 2013, but that was extended to 2020, when it’s planned to crash into the ocean. NASA and others are now working to get that pushed out to 2028.
5. Russian rocket crashed after liftoff. Russia’s military communications satellite has crash-landed in Siberia after failing to reach its planned orbit.
6. In this year made works with James Webb Space Telescope which have to substitute the Hubble Space Telescope. The Webb has a projected launch date of 2018, however, and a lot can happen between now and then.
7. The world celebrates 50th anniversary of human spaceflight. On April 12, 1961, Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth in the Soviet spacecraft Vostok 1. Gagarin never flew in space again, but his mission was a key moment in the space race, prompting President Kennedy to persuade Congress to fund NASA with the goal of putting a man on the moon with 10 years.
8. Nasa Voyager 1 reaches the solar system‘s edge. After a 34-year journey, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is about to go where nothing man-made has gone before: outside our solar system. Voyager 1, traveling at 36,000 mph, is at the very edge, where the charged particles and solar winds emanating from our sun become indistinguishable from the conditions of interstellar space.
9. NASA newest Mars rover, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, launched toward the Red Planet on November 26.
10. In October the German satellite ROSAT fell. German satellite plunged to Earth on October 22 after languishing in a dead orbit for more than a decade, but officials do not yet know where it fell. The 2.7-ton Roentgen Satellite, or ROSAT, slammed into Earth’s atmosphere sometime between 9:45 p.m. EDT (0145 GMT Sunday) and 10:15 p.m. EDT (0215 GMT Sunday).
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