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Advances in Space Science

by Vijay Garg
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Space is an area, about which humans know very little. It is something, that is so vast that its extent cannot be measured or even estimated. The sky is full of all sorts of planets, asteroids, stars, galaxies, natural satellites and many other undiscovered objects. The human eye, upon looking from the earth sees only stars and moons but looking under a telescope reveals a different story.
Space can be defined as any location outside the Earth’s atmosphere and Space Science can be described as a field which broadly includes all of the various science fields that are concerned with the study of the Universe. Astrophysics, Galactic Science, Stellar Science, Non-Earth Planetary Science, Biology of other Planets, Astronautics/Space Travel, Space Colonization and Space Defence, all are a part of Space Science. Space Science helps us to acquire a detailed knowledge of our own Solar System. It is also useful in understanding the origin of our earth and other planets.
Space Science Advancements
Artificial Satellite: The world’s first artificial satellite to be put into the earth’s orbit was Sputnik. It was launched on October 4, 1957, by the former Soviet Union. It was also the first notable step in the evolution of Space Science. It is also considered as the beginning of ‘The Space Age’. A month later Sputnik II was launched into orbit. It carried a dog named Laika, which became the first living being and the first passenger to go into space.
Human Spaceflight: Human Spaceflight was made possible by the Soviets. Yuri Gagarin was the first human to take a spaceflight. It was undertaken on April 12, 1961, when the cosmonaut made one orbit around the Earth aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft. It was launched by the Soviet space program and designed by rocket scientists Sergey Korolyov and Kerim Kerimov. The ‘First Woman in Space’ was Valentina Tereshkova, who was on board Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963. Both spacecraft were launched by Vostok 3KA launch vehicles. Alexei Leonov made the ‘First Spacewalk’ when he left the Voskhod 2 on March 8, 1965, and Svetlana Savitskaya became the ‘First Woman’ to Spacewalk on July 25, 1984.
Man on Moon: The U.S.A. is credited with the first human spaceflight to land on the Moon. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Aldrin became the ‘First Humans to land on the Moon’. The Lunar module Eagle which carried the astronauts became the ‘First Manned Spacecraft to land on the Moon’. The Apollo 11 mission was launched on July 16, 1969, it carried Mission Commander Neil Alden Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, Jr. 
Space Stations: Salyut 1 was the ‘First Space Station of any kind put into orbit’. It was launched on April 19, 1971. The Salyut mission comprised of a three-man crew flying the Soyuz 11 spacecraft. Mir Space Station was a Soviet Space Station. It was the ‘World’s First consistently inhabited long-term research station in space’ and the ‘First of the third generation type of space station’, constructed from 1986 to 1996 with a modular design. The station was in operation for fifteen years until 23 March 2001, when it was deliberately de-orbited, breaking apart during atmospheric re-entry over the South Pacific Ocean. The station currently holds the record for the longest continuous manned presence in space, at eight days short of ten years, and was occupied for a total of twelve and a half years of its fifteen-year lifespan. The International Space Station is an internationally developed research facility currently being assembled in Low Earth Orbit. On-orbit construction of the station began in 1998 and is scheduled to be complete by 2011, with operations continuing until at least 2015. The ISS orbits at an altitude of approximately 350 kilometres (220 mi) above the surface of the Earth, travelling at an average speed of 27,724 kilometres (17,227 mi) per hour and completing 15.7 orbits per day. The station can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye and, as of 2009, is the ‘Largest Artificial Satellite in Earth’s orbit’ with a mass larger than that of any previous space station.
Space Voyages: Various unmanned spacecraft was launched into space for studying other planets. From 1964 to 1976, Mariner IV, V, VII, and IX studied Mars and gathered various details about the planet. From 1976 to 1982, Viking I and II took over. By that time, the probes collected 52,000 pictures of the planet and mapped around 97 per cent of its surface. In March 1989, space shuttle Atlantis launched a spacecraft, Magellan, on a voyage to Venus. In October, the same year, Atlantis launched Galileo to probe Jupiter. Voyager I and II were sent to probe Jupiter and Saturn by the US as early as 1977. Voyager, I was propelled from its intended course while Voyager II was able to scan through Neptune’s blue cloud tops and found a ring of debris encircling it. Voyager II is expected to send information from the far end of the universe until the year 2015 or 2020. The Mars Pathfinder (MESUR Pathfinder later known as The Carl Sagan Memorial Station) was launched on December 4, 1996, by NASA aboard a Delta II just a month after the Mars Global Surveyor was launched. After a 7-month voyage, it landed on Ares Vallis, in a region called Chryse Planitia on Mars, in the Oxia Palus quadrangle, on 4 July 1997. From its landing in July 4, 1997 until the final data transmission on September 27, 1997, Mars Pathfinder returned 16,500 images from the Lander (spacecraft) and 550 images from the Rover (wheeled robot named Sojourner), as well as more than 15 chemical analyses of rocks and soil and extensive data on winds and other weather factors. Findings from the investigations carried out by scientific instruments on both the lander and the rover suggest that Mars was at one time in its past warm and wet, with water existing in its liquid state and a thicker atmosphere.
Hubble Space Telescope: The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope. It was carried into orbit by the Space Shuttle Discovery in April 1990. It is named after the American astronomer Edwin Hubble. Although not the first space telescope, the Hubble is one of the largest and most versatile. It is a vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy. The HST is a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency, and is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Water on Moon: Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first unmanned lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008 and operated until August 2009. The evidence of water molecules on the surface of the moon was found by the moon mineralogy mapper (M3) of the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and by India’s own Moon Impact Probe (MIP) on-on board and Rayaan-1. The discovery is of great significance for the possible utilization of the water.
Space Tourism: Space tourism has also become a reality. Russia has started sending tourists for space travel who are willing to pay the exorbitant charges. Dennis Titi became the first “fee-paying” space tourist on April 28, 2001. He visited the International Space Station (ISS) for seven days. South African computer millionaire Mark Shuttleworth became second and Gregory Olsen became the third space tourists. As of 2009, orbital space tourism opportunities are limited and expensive. Russian Space Agency is the only one providing transport. The price for a flight brokered by Space Adventures to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft is US$20–35 million. Other companies are also in the race to provide such facilities.
New Planets: Hundreds of Extrasolar Planets (also know as Super-Earth) have been discovered since 1992. These planets are found around other stars. Planets throughout the Milky Way Galaxy share characteristics in common with our own. Some of these are Gliese 876 d, which is roughly six times Earth’s mass, OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb, and MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb. The smallest found to date is MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb. As of October 2009, there are 374 known extrasolar planets, ranging from the size of gas giants to that of terrestrial planets.

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