Space Missions to Look Forward to in 2023
The year 2022 was a game-changer for human spaceflight aspirations. The year saw many milestones for human spaceflight, from NASA's Artemis 1 mission, which put humanity’s return to the moon, to the DART mission, which successfully changed an asteroid. With many ground-breaking missions starting and ending in 2023, human spaceflight will also be a significant undertaking. The OSIRIS-Rex mission is scheduled to return to Earth in September 2023, carrying samples from the asteroid Bennu. The Psyche probe, which NASA intends to launch soon after OSIRIS-Rex returns, will investigate the origins of planetary cores by examining the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche.
Here are the important spaceflight milestones that will happen in 2023.
According to PTI, ISRO would launch a series of testing flights in February 2023 in preparation for India's first human space journey. According to the space agency, the crew module for the trip will also be tested using the heavy-light Chinook chopper and the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft. As part of the Gaganyaan mission, the module intends to send astronauts into orbit for three days. Initial plans for the Gaganyaan mission's launch in 2022 were first revealed in 2018. However, India's first manned space mission won't launch until the year 2024 or early 2025 as a result of pandemic-related delays.
While transporting the three astronauts, the crew module must deliver oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, remove humidity, and maintain a comfortable temperature. Four applicants have been chosen from the shortlist by the Indian space agency, and they have already received their initial training in Russia. At Bengaluru's Astronaut Training Facility, they are currently receiving additional training.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission, which failed to make a soft landing on the moon, will be followed up by ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 mission. Chandrayaan-3 will deliver a lunar lander and a lunar rover to Earth's sole natural satellite, just like Chandrayaan-2. The mission is scheduled to launch in June of this year aboard a Launch Vehicle 3 (LVM3) rocket, also known as the GSLV 3. The propulsion unit of the mission will lift the lander and rover combination to an orbit 100 kilometers or so above the lunar surface. In order to analyze the spectral and polarimetric measurements of Earth from lunar orbit, the module will also be equipped with the Spectro-polarimetry of HAbitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload.
The mission's lunar lander will also be equipped with the Langmuir Probe (LP), which will be used to calculate the plasma density and its changes, as well as the Chandra Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE), which will monitor thermal conductivity and temperature. NASA's passive Laser Radar reflector Array will also travel with the lander.
The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission is scheduled to launch in April 2023 by the European Space Agency (ESA). The Juice mission will make thorough observations of the gas giant and its three sizable ocean-containing moons, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, during its 35 fly-bys of Jupiter. The mission will assess Jupiter's moons as planetary objects and prospective habitats in addition to thoroughly investigating Jupiter's environment with the help of the 10 instruments on board. The complex environment of Jupiter, including its magnetism, radiation, and plasma, will be closely observed by the Juice spacecraft. It will also become the first spacecraft to move its own orbit to another planet by relocating to Ganymede's orbit after completing its 35 fly-bys near Jupiter and its Moons.
The Juice mission's main scientific focus will be on Ganymede, the largest of the three moons. It is bigger than both Pluto and Mercury, making it the largest moon in the Solar System. It is also the only moon with a magnetic field that is inherent to it. The only other solid bodies besides Ganymede that produce a dipole field are Mercury and Earth. To determine whether the conditions necessary for life could have ever emerged on these three moons, Juice will also examine the hidden oceans, magnetism, heating processes, tidal effects, orbits, surface activity, cores, compositions, atmospheres, and space environments of the Galilean moons. Searching for physiologically necessary and significant elements, including carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, magnesium, and iron, will be one of the high-resolution mapping tasks for the spacecraft.
In September 2016, the OSIRIS-REx mission was put into motion. It launched from the asteroid Bennu in 2021. The asteroid samples are being carried by the spacecraft, which is on schedule to deliver them to Earth in September 2023. The spacecraft will launch a sample capsule that will precisely land in the Utah Test and Training range of the US Air Force when it is about 250 kilometers above the surface of our planet.
Asteroids like Bennu, in the opinion of NASA, can serve as time capsules for the early development of our solar system. They preserve chemical traces from an earlier time in the universe's history and may even have remnants of the earliest components of life. A major chunk of the samples will be kept so that they can be analyzed by future generations with much more sophisticated technology. The space agency will send portions of the samples to experts across the world.
According to NASA, Bennu is an old relic of the early solar system. The asteroid has a history of more than 4.5 billion years; within 10 million years of the solar system's birth, its current composition was already determined.
Between 700 million to two billion years ago, a much larger, carbon-rich asteroid likely broke up into Bennu. It probably formed in the primary asteroid belt, which is located between Mars and Jupiter and has been drifting toward Earth. Given its age, it might contain important molecules in the emergence of life on Earth.
Visiting Asteroid Psyche
NASA plans to launch the Psyche mission to investigate the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche after recovering OSIRIS-REx. The asteroid is special because it resembles the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet, one of the solar system's building components, and orbits the Sun in a path between Mars and Jupiter.
The majority of solid, terrestrial planets, including Earth, have metallic cores deep within. However, due to their location so deep into the globe, their cores are challenging to reach. The Psyche mission will provide a window into the collisions and accretion that generate terrestrial planets because we cannot directly observe or measure the core of our planet.
A Multispectral Imager, a Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer, a Magnetometer, and an X-band Gravity Science Investigation will all be on board the Psyche mission. The mission will also evaluate a brand-new laser communication method that communicates with Earth without radio waves.