It's been quite a busy year for NASA. It seems as though they've accomplished more groundbreaking achievements in 2018 than ever before. With so many accomplishments to choose from, making a list of the top three of the year wasn't exactly easy. However, we've managed to come up with a few missions that were just a bit more riveting than the rest.
#3: The Voyager 2 Probe
The launching of the Voyager 2 Probe was a major milestone for NASA as it was only the second time in history that a human-made object entered interstellar space. Those tracking the probe determined that it successfully moved past the heliosphere just a few days ago.
For those who don't know, the heliosphere is the layer of magnetic fields and particle bubbles that is sustained by the sun. Moving beyond the heliosphere is anything but easy as crafts are subject to extreme solar winds. That's why NASA's accomplishment is such a huge deal.
Back in 2012, the Voyager 1 successfully broke out of the heliosphere to enter interstellar space as well. What makes this mission unique is that the Voyager 2 is equipped with significantly more instruments designed for the purpose of observation. We're excited to learn about its findings.
#2: The Launch of the Spacex Dragon
Elon Musk's SpaceX was launched in 2002 with the goal of colonizing Mars while reducing the overall costs of space travel. NASA has funded SpaceX for various projects ever since. This year, NASA launched the SpaceX Dragon as a cargo vehicle designed to travel to and from the space station.
The launch of the SpaceX Dragon was a milestone in that it marked an era of easier, more affordable space travel. It was also launched just in time for the holiday season, delivering a variety of holiday-oriented foods and other treats.
The SpaceX Dragon was designed for a lot more than delivery services, however. It's equipped with impressive scientific gear so that it can carry out 250 space-related experiments. The future of the relationship between NASA and Musks's company looks incredibly bright.
#1: Capturing the Sound of Mars
NASA's recent collection of audio recordings taken from Mars captivated the world. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone to see this historic event at the top of our list. The Insight Lander was able to provide us with valuable information about Mars' unique atmosphere by recording the sound of Martian winds.
Despite this amazing achievement, recording audio on Mars was not the intended purpose of the mission. The InSight Lander was designed to study the motions of Mars as well as other key elements of its atmosphere. As the craft remains there, it will be able to study marsquakes in order to provide NASA with a better understanding of the planet's foundation.
The now-viral audio recording isn't the only thing that makes this mission a milestone.
The InSight Lander is the largest lander to have been launched by NASA. Because of its size, it's capable of studying the planet like never before with an abundance of observational mechanisms.
Looking Forward to Next Year
These three NASA missions went well above all expectations and advanced our collective understanding of what exists beyond our planet. It's important to note that all three of these achievements went viral, showing an increased interest in space exploration among the general American public. Needless to say, we're excited to see how all three of these missions pan out over the coming months. And, of course, we can't wait to see what NASA has in store for 2019.