Most remarkably though is the advent of new players in space research, a field that has otherwise been largely dominated by the US and Russia. From the first Canadian space walk to the first robot astronaut by the Japanese to our very own Mars mission, the achievements of this year hold big promises for the one to arrive.
The singing astronaut
Chris Hadfield secured a place for himself in history for more than one reason. The Canadian astronaut, who commanded the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this year, became the first Canadian to walk in space.
But, as the Internet would have it, he is more famously known for his live tweets from space and, the musical rendition of David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' performed in, well, space! The now retired space/ social media hero, who capitulated millions across the world with his breathtaking pictures of earth as it looks from space, has followed his space tour with book tours for his first publication 'An astronauts guide to earth'.
Read our interview with him, here.
Man in the Moon
NASA too had its fair share of excitement this year, Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) being one of its highlights. Launched on September 7 this year, LADEE is a 28-million-dollar mission that will investigate the very tenuous atmosphere that surrounds our moon.
— Kevin Hsu (@hsuperb0i) September 7, 2013
— NewsBreaker (@NewsBreaker) September 7, 2013
Amusingly though, the launch of LADEE will also perhaps be remembered for the frog that photo bombed the landmark event.
To read the full story, click here
ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission
Indian Space Research Organisation made transcendental leaps, quite literally, with our first ever mission to the red planet. The Mars orbiter satellite, with five pay loads, launched by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) lifted off on November 5 this year marking India's prominence in space research. For complete details of the mission, click here
MAVEN Mars probe
NASA, not too far behind ISRO, launched its own Mars mission MAVEN to explore the atmosphere on the planet.
Olympic torch in space
A joint Russian-US crew docked at ISS carried with it the Olympic torch!
First robot astronaut
More recently, Japanese robot Kirobo became the first robot astronaut in space. A video of his conversation with the ISS commander made waves on the Internet. Watch the video here
— Toyota USA (@Toyota) December 19, 2013
Fighting the asteroids
NASA has also revealed Asteroid Redirect Mission (http://www.dnaindia.com/scitech/report-nasa-to-embark-upon-controversial-asteroid-redirect-mission-1876583 ) that will target certain asteroids with robotic spacecraft to bring the small rock into a stable orbit around the Moon. Highly controversial, the mission can cost up to $ 2 billion .
Staring into the far beyond
Some of the space work happened not too far off of the planet. Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes begun their quest to look deeper into the universe. Here are some pictures they shared:
China, too, successfully sent a manned space craft to experiment with docking technologies of a proposed space lab early this year.
— Daniel Fischer (@cosmos4u) June 26, 2013
Robotic exploration to Mars
NASA's has prepared a 'superhero' 'genderless' robot Valkyrie that will be sent for future Mars exploration.
Operators report that setup times are much improved. We are now getting ready for the hose course. pic.twitter.com/oO1xN6oIFg
— Jacob Ward (@_jacobward_) December 21, 2013
Read more about it, here
Space tourism, now closer to reality
This much debated space venture is now closer to reality with many successful trail flights this year. Richard Branson's enterprise, called the Virgin Galactic, has already many takers among the rich and famous.
To Saturn, from Earth
In what was possible one of the largest interstellar crowd sourced event, NASA created a collage of pictures of people from around the world waving towards the planet Saturn. The photo's were taken by the Cassini spacecraft, that is orbiting Saturn, when it turned around to take a picture of Earth as part of a larger set of images it was collecting. Read here
— CassiniSaturn (@CassiniSaturn) November 12, 2013
Watch here how it was done:
Space walk to replace cooling pump
And if all of this failed to impress you, then you must here about how only just last week, astronauts aboard the ISS stepped out into the empty void to fix a critical cooling system; with much success. Take that, Gravity (the film)!
Read NASA's 2013 highlights, here