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2022 was a pretty exciting year for space science, but what news might we expect in the coming year?

Hosted by: Savannah Geary (they/them)
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Sources:
https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2022/nasa-s-webb-delivers-deepest-infrared-image-of-universe-yet
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-confirms-dart-mission-impact-changed-asteroid-s-motion-in-space
https://blogs.nasa.gov/artemis/2022/12/01/artemis-i-flight-day-16-orion-successfully-completes-distant-retrograde-departure-burn/
https://www.nasa.gov/planetarymissions/discovery.html
https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/psyche/overview/
https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Asteroids_Structure_and_composition_of_asteroids
https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/asteroids-comets-and-meteors/asteroids/in-depth/
https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/psyche
https://d2pn8kiwq2w21t.cloudfront.net/documents/Psyche_Fact_Sheet.pdf
https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Euclid_overview
https://sci.esa.int/web/euclid/
https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy
https://cds.cern.ch/record/2702846/files/938-4114-1-PB.pdf
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/lunartimeline.html
https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/chandrayaan-3-launch-in-june-next-year-isro-chairman/article66036565.ece
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraft/display.action?id=CHANDRYN3
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraft/display.action?id=LUNA-25
https://tass.ru/kosmos/15801801
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/europe-cancels-joint-moon-missions-with-russia/
https://www.astrobotic.com/peregrine-spacecraft-on-the-move/
https://www.astrobotic.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Peregrine-Payload-Users-Guide.pdf
https://www.astrobotic.com/lunar-delivery/manifest/

Image Sources:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasawebbtelescope/52212049510/in/album-72177720300469752/
https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasas-asteroid-striking-dart-mission-team-has-jpl-members
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/around-the-moon-with-nasa-s-first-launch-of-sls-with-orion
https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21499
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PSYCHE.jpg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAUbLVS243E&t=3s
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/how-nasa-s-psyche-mission-will-explore-an-unexplored-world
https://images.nasa.gov/details-190005_ASU_SESE_2019_SimoneMarchi_REV_HD2398
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[♪ INTRO] Last year was pretty big for space exploration.

The James Webb Space Telescope brought us some of the most spectacular images we’d seen in decades. The DART spacecraft changed an asteroid’s orbit by smashing into it, and Artemis I’s uncrewed Orion capsule went around the Moon and back.

So, with the wind behind our space sails, agencies around the globe have big plans for 2023. Here’s a small selection of missions we’re looking forward to. First up, NASA will continue its investigation of our solar system’s space rocks by sending the spacecraft Psyche to an asteroid…also called Psyche.

Which I’m sure is never going to be confusing. Psyche is a product of NASA’s Discovery Program, which was established back in the 1990s to encourage low-cost, quick-turnaround spacecraft with more focused research goals. Once it launches, Psyche the spacecraft will need about three and a half years to get to Psyche the space potato, hanging out with a bunch of other asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

But Psyche isn’t like most asteroids. Or at least the ones we’ve explored so far. Those space rocks are mostly made of just that: rock.

But most of Psyche seems to be made of metal. The mis-shapen, cratered lump is about 225 kilometers across, making it one of the most massive asteroids we’ve ever discovered. Because of its composition, astronomers think it may have belonged to the core of a planet, which was smashed apart when the solar system was still forming.

So we’re keen to take a closer look. Studying Psyche could answer a lot of questions not just about how it formed, but how all the terrestrial worlds did, including Earth. To do that, Psyche will spend at least 21 months orbiting Psyche, using a suite of instruments to analyze its chemical composition, and measure its gravitational and magnetic fields.

But while both Psyches will provide a window to what our cosmic neighborhood looked like four and a half billion years ago, another mission slated for 2023 aims to look much further, both in time and space. The Euclid space telescope is an ambitious new instrument from the European Space Agency, or ESA. It’s named after the Ancient Greek mathematician Euclid, who literally wrote the book on everyday geometry.

And Euclid’s mission has a lot to do with geometry, too. It’s set to investigate two of the most mysterious phenomena in the known universe: dark matter and dark energy. Dark matter is a bunch of literally invisible stuff, and dark energy?

Well, all scientists know is it has something to do with how fast space is expanding. We know so little about these two things, despite the fact that they make up roughly 95% of everything that’s out there. And their abundance actually shapes the geometry of the cosmos.

After launching from ESA’s facility in French Guiana, Euclid will travel for about a month until it joins Webb in a spot known as the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, roughly 1.5 million kilometers away. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for them to share. After it’s arrived and is ready to do some science, Euclid will make a 3D map of over one third of the sky, using visible and near infrared light to reveal far-flung galaxies with at least four times more detail than any ground-based image.

As well as making this big map, Euclid will peer really hard into a few places too, completing deep-sky surveys with around 100 times more detail. In this way, the telescope will be able to investigate the past ten billion years of the universe’s history. That’s ten billion years of dark matter and dark energy influencing everything we can see.

So with all this data, scientists hope to answer some of the most fundamental questions about what dark matter and dark energy are, how they work, and how they’ll shape the universe in the distant future. It’s a serious scientific goal, and definitely one to watch out for. But in the meantime, everyone’s sights seem to be set on a much closer target.

Humans haven’t visited the Moon since the 1970s, but over the last few decades, we’ve gotten back into sending robots. And in 2023, we can expect a pile-up. For instance, the Indian Space Research Organization will attempt to launch its Chandrayaan 3 mission in August.

The previous attempt, Chandrayaan 2, crash landed back in 2019. So for this second go, the new spacecraft has a sturdier construction, as well as better sensors and landing software. With a lander and rover dynamic duo, Chandrayaan 3 is heading for the lunar south pole.

Previous studies have detected water ice down there, but since nobody’s landed on the uniquely cratered surface, there’s a lot to learn about the terrain and composition too. But it won’t be alone down there. Russia’s Roscosmos is aiming to launch its Luna 25 lander in July.

It’s a much belated followup to Luna 24, which landed way back in 1976. Yep, they’re carrying on the numbering as if there hadn’t been nearly 50 years in between! If they’re successful, this will be the first Russian spacecraft to land on the Moon, since all the previous successes technically happened under the Soviet Union!

Luna 25 is hoping to study the lunar south pole’s surface material, but it’ll also investigate the Moon’s practically nonexistent atmosphere, and its relationship with the rock and dust that astronauts might walk all over one day. But it isn’t just government agencies getting in on the action. The lunar surface is set to become a hotbed of both public and private science.

The company Astrobotic is heading to the Moon for the first time in 2023, and is offering transport for both government and commercial entities for every kind of payload you can imagine…from science equipment, to tech for R&D, to personal items, if you can afford the sticker price: 1.2 million dollars per kilogram. While Astrobotic plans to join India and Russia at the South Pole, their first Peregrine lander will be sent much further north…near the lunar lake Lacus Mortis. I’m sure nothing bad could come of sending your lander to a place called Lake of Death.

Of course, even without deadly lakes in the mix, things don’t always go according to plan, and delays and disasters can happen. But if everything works out alright, the coming year will be an exciting time for exploring everything from our nearest neighbor to the deepest reaches of space. We here at SciShow Space can’t wait to see what the universe has in store for us, and we’d love for you to join us on our journey through 2023.

To find out how you can support the channel, you can head right on over to patreon.com/scishowspace. Thanks for watching. [♪ OUTRO]