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2021 Year in Review: Out of This World

To recap 2021, is taking a look back at some of the most interesting stories we’ve covered this year.
Today we’re looking at some of the year’s big stories of space exploration.

Missions from UAE, China Reach Mars

Logos for the Emirates Mars Mission and the Tianwen-1 superimposed around a picture of Mars.
Two spacecraft from Earth reached Mars this week – one from the United Arab Emirates, and the other from China. The missions, which launched last July, take on big, new challenges for their countries. A US spacecraft should arrive on February 18.

Update: NASA’s Perseverance Lands Safely on Mars

Members of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover team watch in Mission Control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California as the first images arrive moments after the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars, on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
NASA’s Perseverance rover touched ground safely on Mars Yesterday. NASA is now going through tests of the Perseverance to make sure everything is working well.

NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Flies On Mars

First black and white image taken from NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter in flight.
On Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter flew over the surface of Mars. It’s the first time a powered aircraft has made a controlled flight on another planet. The helicopter’s success will make a big difference in how NASA explores space in the future.

China, US Make Important Progress on Mars

Screenshot from an animation of the landing of China's Zhurong rover from its Tianwen-1 mission.
On Friday, China landed its Zhurong rover on the surface of Mars – a huge step for the country’s space program. The Zhurong will join NASA’s rovers and its Ingenuity helicopter, which are also doing things never been done on Mars before.

Inspiration4 Sends “Ordinary People” to Space

The launch of the Falcon9 rocket carrying the Inspiration4 mission into space.
Last night, a group of four “ordinary” people blasted off into space in the first space mission with no professional astronauts. The four will remain in space, circling the Earth for three days before splashing down this weekend.

News Roundup: Pakistan Earthquake, Malaria Vaccine, & a Movie in Space

Yulia Peresild, Anton Shkaplerov, and Klim Shipenko (front row) seen on the ISS along with other members of the space station crew during a video meeting.
In today’s news roundup, a strong and deadly earthquake strikes Pakistan, the WHO approves the first-ever vaccine against malaria, and a Russian actor and movie maker are now on the International Space Station to make the first film shot in space.

NASA’s Lucy Mission Will Visit Eight Asteroids

An artist's concept of the Lucy Mission.
On Saturday, NASA launched a special spacecraft called Lucy. Lucy will take a 12-year trip to learn more about a group of asteroids known as the Trojans. Scientists believe the asteroids will provide information on the beginning of the solar system.

Russia Blasts Satellite, Creates Dangerous Space Debris

3D graph of the cloud of tracked fragments as of 18 November 2021
Last week, Russia used a missile to destroy a satellite, sending thousands of pieces of the satellite flying through space. Russia’s actions have put astronauts and spacecraft in greater danger. They have also caused serious concerns back on Earth.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe “Touches” the Sun

Drawing showing the Parker Solar Probe entering the Sun's corona.
Three years after NASA launched its Parker Solar Probe, the probe has become the first human spacecraft to “touch” the Sun. The probe first flew through the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or “corona” in April.



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