In pics: NASA's five successful satellite missions in 2018

This year was an exceptional year, with a variety of launches. These missions truly highlight the wide-ranging portfolio that NASA science has to offer.  

Launching of GOES-S or say GOES-17

Kicking off the year was the launch of NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S or GOES-S. Launched March 1, 2018 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, GOES-17 is the second in a series of NOAA's next-generation geostationary weather satellites. 

The GOES-S weather satellite, was renamed as GOES-17 which will help give the big weather picture, including precise data on hurricanes.

GOES-17 is designed to provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth from 22,300 miles above the equator. 

(Photograph:AFP)

Next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system

TESS was launched on April 18, 2018, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life.

TESS will survey the entire sky over the course of two years by breaking it up into 26 different sectors, each 24 degrees by 96 degrees across. The powerful cameras on the spacecraft will stare at each sector for at least 27 days, looking at the brightest stars at a two-minute cadence. 

 

(Photograph:AFP)

NASA InSight Lander Arrives on Martian Surface

The $850 million InSight mission , whose name is short for "Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport" was launched in May along with two briefcase-size fly-along probes called MarCO-A and MarCO-B.

InSight will map the Martian interior in unprecedented detail using a seismometer suite and a self-burrowing heat probe, both of which must be placed directly on the Red Planet's surface by the lander's robotic arm.

The data gathered by InSight during its nearly two-Earth-year mission will help scientists better understand how rocky planets in general form and evolve, NASA officials have said.

(Photograph:AFP)

NASA's first spacecraft named after a living person

It was launched on August 12, 2018 and became the first NASA spacecraft named after a living person, honouring physicist Eugene Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago.

The Parker Solar Probe was the first spacecraft to fly into the low solar corona. It will assess the structure and dynamics of the Sun's coronal plasma and magnetic field, the energy flow that heats the solar corona and impels the solar wind, and the mechanisms that accelerate energetic particles.

The goals of the mission are: Trace the flow of energy that heats the corona and accelerates the solar wind, Determine the structure and dynamics of the magnetic fields at the sources of solar wind, Determine what mechanisms accelerate and transport energetic particles. 

(Photograph:AFP)

Last launch of the Delta II rocket, launches ICESat-2

ICESat-2 part of NASA's Earth Observing System is a satellite mission for measuring ice sheet elevation and sea ice thickness, as well as land topography and vegetation characteristics.

ICESat mission was launched on 15 September 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, into a near-circular, near-polar orbit with an altitude of approximately 496 km (308 mi). It was designed to operate for three years and carry enough propellant for seven years.

The ICESat-2 mission is designed to provide elevation data needed to determine ice sheet mass balance as well as vegetation canopy information.

Another mission that was launched by NASA was- ICON which will study the frontier of space – the dynamic zone high in the atmosphere where Earth's weather from below meets space weather above.

(Photograph:AFP)