WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) — NASA says it will remember 2009 as the year during which it discovered water on the moon and mapped Earth’s location in the Milky Way galaxy.
It was also the year the Hubble Space Telescope was upgraded, the number of people living on the International Space Station was increased and an unprecedented survey of polar ice was started.
Here are some of the other events NASA considers among the year’s top space-related accomplishments:
– Four shuttle flights were made to the International Space Station to complete its power-generating capacity, activate Japan’s Kibo laboratory and expand the station’s interior volume to nearly 26,000 cubic feet.
– The initial flight of the Ares I-X test rocket was conducted to help develop future launch vehicles.
– NASA scientists, aside from discovering water molecules in the polar regions of the moon, also found hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, in lunar soil.
– The space agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter began mapping the moon’s terrain from an altitude of 31 miles, to return more data about the moon than any other previous satellite.
– NASA scientists determined methane and carbon monoxide have a significantly more powerful impact on global warming than previously thought.
– Space agency scientists achieved the first definitive detection of methane and its global variation in Mars’ atmosphere, suggesting the planet is biologically or geologically active, or both.
– NASA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing by highlighting 49 notable examples of how space agency innovations result in significant advances in healthcare, transportation, consumer goods, environmental protection, computer technology and industrial productivity.
People can vote on which event they consider the top NASA event of 2009 at http://www.nasa.gov/news/09_YIR_poll.html.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International