For years, NASA has been using advanced technology to cast new light upon the mysteries of the universe, and bring them before the eyes of many. Ever since man has held knowledge of the existence of a realm beyond the Earth, there has been a constant fascination with delving into the outermost regions of space to expose the possibilities that lie in its expanse.
NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is a division of the United States government that directs the operations of American’s civilian space program. They are also responsible for conducting research behind the study, engineering, and development of machinery capable of aerodynamic navigation within the atmosphere, also known as aeronautics. This research further extends into the pursuit of navigating the void beyond Earth’s atmosphere, in both theory and practice, by the science of astronautics, or cosmonautics.
Significant advances in the modern understanding of science, medicine, and the human body can be attributed to the work of NASA. For example, light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, originally used as a viable light source for plants during space shuttle growth experiments, have now been approved by the FDA to treat tumors once primary options have been exhausted. Also, advances in prosthetic technology developed by NASA and Environmental Robotics Incorporated now possess commercial applications in artificial limb replacement to increase dynamic functionality and effectiveness.
One of the main goals of NASA is to gain a better understanding of not only the Earth, but also to cast a new light on the planets that make up the surrounding solar system, and the relationships between them within the universe. Utilizing both manned and unmanned expeditions, scientists have been able to uncover much, starting with the initial human contact of the moon landing that took place on July 20, 1969. This voyage, made by the Apollo 11, allowed for the collection of various lunar samples, observations of the surrounding environment, and in-depth stereo photography of the lunar surface and other features of the celestial body.
Since that time, NASA has continued to move forward in its endeavors to provide a clearer understanding of astronautics through the creation of the Space Shuttle Program, which spanned from the late 1970s until July 21, 2011. During this course of time, the space shuttle fleet completed 135 missions and worked to construct the modular artificial satellite known as the International Space Station, or ISS. All of the missions were broken up into voyages conducted by 5 different vessels; the Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, and Endeavour. These crafts made over 21 thousand orbits around the earth, and traveled more than 542 thousand miles for a total of more than three years spent in space.
Recent expeditions headed by NASA have sought to verify the existence of other planets throughout the galaxy capable of sustaining life. The observatory known as the Kepler spacecraft was designed with the purpose of conducting such surveys on a nearby portion of the Milky Way, and was officially launched on March 7, 2009. Recently, there have been discoveries of a vast number of worlds that could potentially support biological inhabitants, with current numbers totaling more than three thousand candidates. As NASA continues to advance its combined efforts into technological breakthroughs such as these, new light will continue to be cast on how far man can journey into the seemingly infinite universe beyond planet Earth.
Written by Darrell Purcell