Front Page Talking Points


What's ahead in 2023 space activities aimed at landing on the moon and studying Mars


1.gifRead about any other out-of-this-world topic. React in up to 12 words.

2.gifPick a different article involving science or technology and list a fact you learn.

3.gifList two vital school subjects that NASA team members had to master.

America's space agency plans another year of exciting missions. NASA activities in 2023 will follow a year of dramatic advances that included cosmic scenes captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. NASA last year also showed it can use a spacecraft to knock a potentially risky asteroid into an orbit further from Earth, and completed the first phase of an Artemis program aimed at returning astronauts to the moon as early as 2025.

Now SpaceX, a private company working on Artemis with the government, is testing a next-generation rocket called Starship for NASA's lunar landing attempt. The firm is preparing to launch an uncrewed orbital flight from South Texas, expected sometime this year. Separately, a Japanese company named Ispace last month launched an unmanned moon mission on a SpaceX rocket. It's taking a slow, fuel-efficient route to the moon and is set to arrive in April, when it will try to deploy a rover built by the United Arab Emirates, a robot built by Japan's space agency and other payloads.

Aboard the International Space Station, orbiting 254 miles above Earth, seven crew members -- including three Americans -- are doing research aimed at sustaining future crews farther from Earth. One project using genetically engineered microbes to provide nutrients on demand in space. NASA flight engineer Nicole Mann this month nourished and incubated genetically engineered yeast samples in an on-board lab.

And on Mars, NASA's Perseverance rover is filling sample tubes with rocky material as the agency works on the next steps to get them back to Earth for study. That geology evidence could answer a key question: Did life ever exist on Mars?

Artemis missions: This ambitious program is aimed at establishing the first long-term presence on the moon. "Then, we will use what we learn on and around the moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars," NASA posts.

Space station: The largest structure humans ever put into space has been continuously occupied since November 2000 by rotating crews from the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency. It orbits orbiting Earth about every 90 minutes. Astronauts conduct scientific and manufacturing experiments inside on board, take spacewalks for maintenance, and send educational videos and social media posts back home. The living and working space is larger than a six-bedroom house, and includes a gym and two bathrooms.

SpaceX: This spacecraft manufacturer, launcher and satellite communications company is based in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars.

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2024

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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.