The decade ended with the announcement of a new mission back to the moon, which is just one of the many missions that are planned to make history this next decade. Here is what humanity has to look forward to.
Christina Koch has surpassed the record for the single longest space mission by a woman as previously established by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2017. The 40-year-old Expedition 61 flight engineer exceeded Whitson's record of 289 days, 5 hours and 1 minute on Saturday (Dec. 28) at 6:16 p.m. CST (0016 GMT on Dec. 29).
On Earth and in space, NASA had a busy decade in the 2010s. In its human spaceflight program, the agency retired the space shuttle and is now close to launching humans to space again, this time on commercial crew vehicles. NASA also changed its long-term destination for humans a few times; currently the agency is targeting the moon and Mars.
Three lunar missions, commercial spaceflight milestones, the first all-woman spacewalk -- 2019 was a busy year in space for public and private entities alike. NASA looked forward to new moon landings while celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. SpaceX launched its first commercial crew spacecraft and lofted a miniature prototype of its massive Starship vehicle. Planetary missions began and ended, sometimes much sooner than planned.
The first image of a black hole, previously thought nigh impossible to capture, was named the top scientific breakthrough of 2019 by the journal Science. Although researchers had spent years theorizing about black holes, few imagined they would ever get a chance to actually see one. Since black holes reflect no light, they are perfectly camouflaged against the darkness of space.
NIH has taken an expanded approach in defining scientists from disadvantaged backgrounds, in an effort to encourage and enable more biomedical scientists. NIH determined that the criteria they were using in defining disadvantaged was too narrow; for example, what was considered low-income ($25,750 for a family of four) is actually considered severe poverty and represents an overly strict threshold, the reviewers found.
The White House announced today (Dec 19) that President Trump intends to nominate Sethuraman Panchanathan, a professor of computing and informatics at Arizona State University, to be director of the National Science Foundation. Panchanathan, who often goes by the nickname “Panch,” would replace France Córdova, whose six-year term expires in March.
Science is good at measuring progress -- and where we fall short. Science News’ Top 10 stories of the year reflect that duality, from celebrating great achievements to highlighting problems we had hoped to avoid.
Comet 2I/Borisov has become something of a cosmic celebrity in recent months, and researchers have been collecting snapshots with paparazzi passion. These new pics are the most revealing yet, taken as the interstellar visitor makes its closest approach to Earth.
A new analysis suggests that the chemistry prize is, in fact, increasingly awarded to research better described as biochemistry or life sciences. To refocus the prize on what they describe as chemistry and continue to recognize the top science in related disciplines, the researchers suggest changes to the awards, including adding new topical prizes, allowing posthumous awards, and diversifying the committee that chooses the laureates.