Mars, space soldiers and NASA's big party: The biggest space stories of 2018
Tonight, 2018, we loved, we cried, we shot a car into space.
It's been a big year in space and most of us haven't even left the Earth.
So what exactly did 2018 bring us and when is Elon Musk gonna return that space Tesla to the garage.
I'm Claire Reilly, welcome to Watch This Space.
From the cnet studios in Sydney this is your weekly guide to everything on earth you need to know about space.
And tonight power drills on Mars, galactic troopers defending our interplanetary borders.
2018 has been a pretty wild ride.
And here at Watch This Space, we're taking a look back at the biggest space stories of the year in the only way we know how With terrible puns and topical humor about Soviet Russia.
First up, time to bake the Universes biggest birthday cake because NASA turned 60.
He was created with the stroke of President Eisenhower's pen in 1958, why?
The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.
Just don't panic.
NASA has taken us to the lunar surface, outpassed the furthest boundaries of the solar system, and it's even got plans to get us on Mars.
We sure have come a long way since racing Soviet space dogs to the moon.
But after such a big milestone, there's no doubt the next 60 years will look very different for NASA as it partners with companies like SpaceX to further its goals and continues to prove its relevance for the next era of space travel.
And on the topic of a new era in space, welcome to the age of Donald Trump's Space Force.
In June this year, President Trump announced plans to form the sixth branch of the armed forces, the Space Force.
It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance In space, so important.
That's right, Uncle Sam is putting on his astrohelmet and defeinding America's interests in the sky.
We don't know a great deal about the space force but the administration was still putting the final touches on a plan in December and vice-president Mike Pence says it will be created by 2020.
But rest assured that in the coming decades as we expand our space horizons and explore the infinite beauty of realms untouched by human hands.
The military industrial complex will never be too far behind us.
Speaking of hot takes, put on your oven mitts.
We're touching the sun.
Our next big space story of the year was the launch of the Parker Solar Probe.
In August, the Parker Probe set off to fly closer to the sun than any human made object has gone before.
The Probe is exploring the star's corona.
That's the fiery ring of plasma around the sun that for some unknown, presumably terrifying reason.
Is actually hotter than the surface of the sun.
Just when I thought I had you figured out.
The [UNKNOWN] Commission sent back it's first photo inside this atmosphere in December and it's a crack up.
Next, NASA hopes the mission will teach us more about solar wind and how energy emanates from the sun and affects the rest of the solar system.
But it wasn't a new mission this year.
2018 was also the year we said goodbye to some old friends after launching in 2009 and spending almost a decade finding thousands of new planet beyond our solar system.
NASA announced in October that the Keptra space telescope had been put into sleep mode.
And just like your beloved childhood pet it wont be waking up.
Just a few days later NASA also confirmed that the Dawn Mission, which has been investigating the two largest objects in the asteroid belt, was also being sent to the great space farm in the sky.
But we're old missions passed on new spacecraft came up in their place while Kepler is gone the test mission NASA's transiting exoplanet survey satellite will pick up where it left off Hunting out new worlds and finding planets.
Just like our own which leads us to our favorite Space story of the year.
We're talking about NASA's Insight Mission to Mars.
After blasting off in May 2018, NASA's InSight Lander successfully touched down on the surface of Mars on November 26.
That's impressive feat in it's own right before you even consider they had to program the entire landing sequence before hand and reach the perfect speed and angle to get the lander through the Martian atmosphere, and onto the surface without falling over, All while being on an eight minute communications delay.
But Insight is already an overachiever.
It sends back selfies and even recorded the sound of Martian wind.
And that's all before it starts drilling deeper into the red planet than every before.
So there you have it, five big stories form an impressive year but, here watch this space.
We like to celebrate all of our space achievements, large and small.
So, as we end the year and as we end the first season of the show, let's look Look back at all the wierd, wonderful and downright insane stuff we have seen this year.
Background music, please.
Like the time NASA sent 450,000 gallons of water into the air for science or the time the astronauts found a hole in the international space station and plugged it with their thumb.
And then there were the Martian dust storms, and the first SpaceX launch from the West Coast, lighting up the California sky.
Who could forget when Buzz Aldrin schooled Twitter users on his selfie skills?
Or when Richard Branson finally sent people into space with Virgin Galactic, after promising to do it for literally ten years.
And then, there was the Japanese space agencies photos from the surface of an asteroid.
And of course, ailing mask literally shooting money into the sky when it struck the teasler to the side of a rocket.
So, if 2018 has gotten you down with politics, climate change, and whatever else happening with big coin at the moment, just remember how much we've achieved away from that And remember, we're just getting started.
We'll see you in 2019 with more Watch This Space.
And in the meantime, good night and Godspeed.
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