We all know very well that Since the NASA was founded in 1958 by the president of the United States, Eisenhower, there have been many adventures that the researchers and astronauts of the well-known US space agency have gone through and many discoveries that have increased our knowledge about the universe and the Solar System. Hence, next, we will show you all the top 10 most important achievements made by NASA throughout its history.
Top 10 NASA’s Greatest Achievements Of All Time
Since the NASA was founded in 1958 by the president of the United States, Eisenhower, there have been many adventures that the researchers and astronauts of the well-known US space agency have gone through and many discoveries that have increased our knowledge about the universe and the Solar System.
Although its space race was impelled by the political tension of the Cold War between the United States and Russia, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Act) has always focused on the study of the Solar System.
Now, after spending 60 years collecting information about the Moon, the Sun and our neighboring stars and planets, the last decades have marked the beginning of outer space and the search for other planets similar to ours.
Hence, next, we will show you all the top 10 most important achievements made by NASA throughout its history. So, now without wasting much time let’s get started and simply explore the whole top list that we have mentioned below.
The first American astronaut to orbit the Earth
Maybe at this point, orbiting Earth seems to us a more or less simple crossing for an astronaut, but at the time it was quite an achievement for the United States. His name is Alan Shepard, he was not the first human being to climb into space, as the Russians overtook the Americans, the first astronaut was named Yuri Gagarin.
May 5, 1961, was a day of tension at NASA’s facilities. The launch was stopped several times to re-check the equipment and weather conditions did not accompany. Even so, after hours of delays, everything went well.
Shepard reached Earth orbit at the height of 187.5 kilometers, spent 15 minutes and 28 seconds traveling about 487 kilometers around the Earth and then sink in the Atlantic Ocean. However, everything had gone perfectly and later this manned mission followed by many more.
Apollo 11 and The First Person on the Moon
Possibly the best-known achievement of NASA, more than 500 million people watched the broadcast and were thrilled to see how the first man left his mark on the surface of our satellite, of course, Moon.
As Neil Armstrong came down the stairs and said, “This is a small step for man, but a great step for humanity.” Since then many more contemplated the “magnificent desert” of the landscape, as described by Buzz Aldrin, one of the comrades of Armstrong on the trip.
Explorer 1, the first satellite
Immediately after the success of the Russian satellite Sputnik, NASA went to work on its first satellite, it is not always possible to be the first. It took only three months to finish Explorer 1.
As it arrived in space on a rocket and was equipped with an armory of tools that would help scientists study the cosmic rays in Earth’s orbit. Although the photograph looks like a ballpoint pen, Explorer 1 was 203 centimeters long, 15.9 centimeters in diameter and weighed about 14Kg.
It was launched into space on January 31, 1958, and after five months orbiting 12.5 times per day, the Explorer made its last transmission on May 23, 1958, but that was not its grand finale. As twelve years later and 58,000 orbits around the Earth, it entered the atmosphere and burned on May 31, 1970.
The results transmitted by the Explorer 1 cosmic ray detector were used to develop the first theories about the radiation belts trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field, while a second satellite would end up confirming this theory.
Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft
The two spacecraft Voyager 1 and 2 are the objects created by the human being that has reached farthest in space. At the moment, both are on their way to the Oort Cloud, the last region where objects are still affected by the sun’s gravity, the last frontier of the Solar System.
As last year the Voyager 2 probe reached the interstellar space. The two were launched into space the same year, in 1977 with just a few days of difference, but by the conditions of each journey, Voyager 1 went ahead, reaching interstellar space in 2012 to 18,000 million kilometers from Earth.
Moreover, NASA calculates that its batteries will only last 26 more years and to reach the Oort Cloud there would still be 300 years of passage. In any case, you can not deny them the feat of the trip and their contribution to the study of the Solar System.
Space Shuttle: The First Reusable Spacecraft
Preparing each mission involves millions of dollars to build equipment that is only used once. President Richard Nixon was in charge of announcing the construction plan for a reusable spacecraft that was capable of reusing multiple missions.
For being the first, NASA chose the most basic design of a shuttle, with two solid rocket propellers connected to an orbital module and an external fuel tank and named them Atlantis.
They had to overcome many obstacles such as the scorching effect of crossing the atmosphere or avoid landing in the ocean. For the first problem, they designed a layer of ceramic tiles that absorbed the heat and for the second they decided that it would land like an airplane or glider on an airstrip.
Atlantis was followed by another four reusable ferries that would total more than 130 missions with stays on the International Space Station (ISS).
Robots conquer Mars
If you think for a moment, then we all know very well that Mars has already been conquered by the human being, but indirectly. The planet is increasingly plagued with robots or rovers exploring the landscape and gathering information.
The Mars Pathfinder was the first to step on Martian soil in 1997, followed by others until it became nine robots exploring Mars. Some of the first who arrived are no longer active after spending years of working for different reasons ended up shutting down permanently.
However, the NASA plans to send more rovers in 2020 so this small community of explorers will continue to grow until humans are prepared to visit in person.
Juno – Mission to Jupiter
Among all the achievements that we are going to tell you in this post, this mission is one of the most recent. In August of 2011, the Juno mission took off destined to Jupiter, whose main goal is to study from the gravitational fields of the planet to the atmosphere full of storms that give it that characteristic aspect.
It took six years to reach the planet, although it had already achieved a record, to be the first spacecraft with solar energy that had reached faraway. Currently, it continues to orbit around Jupiter in an elliptical manner and gathers crucial information to better understand this gigantic planet.
On April 11, 1970, the Apollo 13 mission took off from Earth in the direction of the moon. About 60 hours later, an explosion closed almost all the systems necessary to keep the astronauts on board alive. The rescue to bring back home alive James Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Hayes became instantly the priority and one of the most difficult challenges that the US space agency has faced.
At that the tension kept the whole country awaiting the news and ended up becoming a Hollywood movie responsible for popularizing the phrase “Houston, We Have a Problem!”. Many are those who claim that the phrase is an invention of the film industry, but whether real or not, even NASA uses it in their writings on the subject.
The second tank was broken when a fan was turned on, just after the TV broadcast was over and the successful launch had been assured. The explosion of the tank, damage another one, immediately after, two of the boat’s fuel cells went out.
The Apollo 13 was more than 300,000 kilometers away from Earth losing oxygen and with the electric power systems, water, heat, and light, blocked. While the astronauts lived as they could their only hope was the speed of the control engineers to make months of calculation in days and find a way to go home. Hence, this failed mission is remembered as one of its greatest achievements.
The Hubble Space Telescope
In the age of the Earth’s light telescopes, our vision of the universe was blurred, as the astronomers needed sharper images to study the universe and decided to change their strategy.
The atmosphere of the Earth, full of clouds, water, gas vapors, distorts the light that comes from space, preventing the taking of clear photographs, even if the lens is of the best quality.
The engineers decided to take the photographic equipment out of the earth’s atmosphere, creating the space telescopes. And among all those that were made Hubble, in honor of the astronomer Edwin Hubble, has been the most important photographer of the US space agency.
We have chosen not to illustrate this section with an image of the telescope, as the most important thing is its impressive photographs. More than 1.5 million astronomical observations and photographs taken of more than 40,000 space objects have been made since arriving in space in 1990.
The image that accompanies this section is the center of a galaxy 40 million light years from our planet Earth. However, the fact is that the Hubble Telescope is not just NASA’s merit, as it was built with the help of the European Space Agency.
Chandra X-ray Observatory
The Chandra telescope occupied for years the title of the most sensitive X-ray telescope in the world. This machine has been able to see things like the fraction of a second in which space particles disappear into a black hole.
Unlike optical telescopes, X-ray telescopes use the highest energy particles, that is, X-rays, instead of visible light simply to capture the images.
Chandra became 25 times more sensitive than any previous X-ray telescope. This telescope has provided images of supernovas, exploding stars and black holes. With all this information the scientific community has been able to improve their understanding of the life and death of stars among many other data about the universe.
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