StoryFind in pictures the highlights of scientific and medical news, as well as the personalities who have left their mark on the past year.
In memories blurred by a feeling of using the perpetual present, the Covid-19 will again constitute, after 2020, the major event of the year 2021. For this retrospective in images, we had promised ourselves to try to escape this vampiric news, but we had to face the facts: after Delta, the irruption of Omicron was essential with his spicule with multiple mutations. Our selection, which is not exhaustive, illustrates the discoveries and breakthroughs that may have been overshadowed by the coronavirus – even if one of the most promising, with the launch on December 25 of the James-Webb space telescope, managed to pierce the wall of the pandemic news. We will therefore discuss Martian exploration, the progress of artificial intelligence, the prospects in nuclear fusion, archaeological surprises or various medical advances, excluding Covid – because there is of course a life beyond SARS-CoV- 2.
Two additional rovers on Mars
Two new mobile robots joined the Curiosity rover on Mars in this year 2021. First of all, the American Perseverance, which landed on February 18. Then the Chinese Zhurong, who landed on May 14, a first for China. If the stakes of the light Zhurong (240 kg) are more technical than scientific, this is not the case of its American counterpart. Astromobile weighing more than one ton, Perseverance is a mobile laboratory which aims in particular to select and place in tubes Martian samples, which should be recovered and brought back to Earth within ten years, in the hope to detect traces of past life. Perseverance also carried with it a small demonstration helicopter, Ingenuity, which became the first man-made craft to fly on a planet other than Earth.
SpaceX succeeds in landing its Starship launcher
May 5, as the United States celebrated the 60e anniversary of the first American in space (Alan Shepard), SpaceX finally managed to land its Starship launcher safely at its Texas base at Boca Chica, after a six-minute flight during which the rocket climbed to about 10 kilometers above sea level. The first four flights of the Starship – which is actually the second stage of an overpowered rocket – had all resulted in the machine exploding around the time of landing, either before, during, or just after. This success came at the right time for Elon Musk’s company because NASA selected a spacecraft derived from the Starship as the future lunar lander. The first stage of the launcher, named “Super Heavy Booster”, has not yet been tested in flight.
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