THE NASAspace agency United Statesinformed last Wednesday, 20, that the Artemis I quest must begin in late August (29th) or early September (2nd or 5th). The expedition, which will be unmanned, is part of a space agency program to return astronauts to the moon, something that has not happened since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
Although the trip was not attended by people, NASA’s announcement of the dates was an important step forward for the realization of the project. And that step was just one of several other moments in which the American space agency played a role in the last two weeks.
Before announcing the days that one of its spacecraft will travel into space, NASA released to the world – with the right to broadcast at the White House – the first images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope; showed photos of Jupiter taken by the same observatory; and even had the Brazilian capitals as photographic models of the international space station (ISS).
And part of this done in the company of the biggest Supermoon of the year, a natural phenomenon that happened to happen last Wednesday, the 13th, amid the discoveries and news that gave the American space entity prominence in the news around the world. Remember the facts carried out by NASA.
Images from the James Webb Space Telescope
11 days ago, NASA unveiled the image of SMACS 0723, a cluster of the most distant, deepest and oldest galaxies in the universe seen to date. The photo was captured by the James Webb Space Telescope, a project that took decades to complete, with the help of European space agencies.
Even before the photo was revealed, the announcement of the image was already being treated as a big event. The exhibition of the record was made from the White House, with the presence of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, and the Vice President, Kamala Harris. Both described the day as “historic”.
The following day, NASA released four more new images, being the spectrum of the composition of the atmosphere of a giant and gaseous planet and other photographs of astronomical objects that had already been portrayed by Hubble, a telescope that precedes James Webb.
The technological capability of the most modern observatory has given astronomers (and everyone else) the possibility to see new details of the universe, which were not possible to be seen before. And the chance to know more about space could be the key to getting answers to questions like: is there life on other planets besides Earth?
Jupiter’s Rings and Moons
In the wake of the release of James Webb’s records, NASA released photos that the telescope captured of the Earth’s own galaxy. One of them, and which drew international attention, was the portraits of Jupiter, taken when the observatory was still in the testing phase.
From Jupiter, Webb recorded the distinct bands circling the planet and the Great Red Spot, described by NASA as “a storm big enough to engulf the Earth.” From the images it is possible to see Europa, a moon that has an ocean below a thick icy crust; and also Thebe and Metis, two other moons that are close to Jupiter.
In the same week that NASA released the new discoveries about the universe, people had the opportunity to witness the biggest Supermoon of 2022. The phenomenon is the result of the appearance of the Moon in the full phase (when the Sun and Moon are aligned and the rays solar rays hit it frontally), added to the perigee, when this full moon is closer to Earth.
The astronomical equation allowed people to apparently visualize the Supermoon 16% brighter and 6% larger compared to conventional full moons.
return to the moon
NASA also gave more details about the return to the Moon this week. Last Wednesday, the 20th, the agency reported that the launch of the spacecraft for the unmanned Artemis I mission should take place between the 29th of August, 2nd or 5th of September.
The trip will last three weeks and does not intend to land on the Moon, but it will serve as a study for future expeditions with astronauts, which should take place from 2023. It will be the first time a person has set foot on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
Aerial photos of capitals
In recent days, the American space agency has shown special attention to Brazil, and released aerial and night images from Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Curitiba. All were made by the International Space Station (ISS), 420 kilometers away, at night — which showed the difference in the luminosity of the capitals in relation to neighboring municipalities.
The record of the city of São Paulo was even published on NASA’s official Instagram profile, which posted it with the following caption: “The ISS (International Space Station) took this photo of São Paulo while orbiting 261 miles (420 km) on July 2022. São Paulo is the most populous city in Brazil. In this photo, its bright street lights set it apart from a nearby smaller city, Guarulhos.”