Astronomical Milestones Since 2010.
2011: The MESSENGER spacecraft enter orbit around Mercury, the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory – including the Curiosity rover – towards the Red Planet, and the Dawn spacecraft enter orbit around asteroid 4 Vesta. Scientists launched the Juno mission that has just arrived at Jupiter, sent the GRAIL mission off to study the Moon, and celebrated and also mourned the final space shuttle mission. That year also saw the discovery of two more Jovian moons and the discovery of Kerberos, a tiny moon of Pluto.
2012: The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider. The Hubble Space Telescope also delved further into the distant universe by capturing the eXtreme Deep Field, and planetary scientists discovered Styx, another tiny moon of Pluto.
2013: The Planck satellite team published data on the cosmic microwave background radiation, updating our view of the contents of the cosmos. A meteorite exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring 1,500 people when the shock wave shattered glass in buildings. Comet ISON promised to be a delightful sight for amateur astronomers until it fizzled in the light of the Sun. The United States launched the MAVEN mission to study the Martian atmosphere. And the Chinese Chang’e 3 spacecraft launched to the Moon.
2014: The Rosetta spacecraft’s arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and its Philae lander’s touchdown on the comet’s surface. The Japanese Hayabusa 2 mission also launched toward its sampling of asteroid 162173 Ryugu.
2015: Planetary scientists rejoiced over the flyby of New Horizons past Pluto, completing the exploration of Solar System bodies commenced with the Voyager programme in the 1970s. And the Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around dwarf planet Ceres, beginning to study its surface.
2016: Astronomers shook the world by announcing they had detected gravitational waves from the collision and merger of two distant black holes. Caltech astronomers announced the discovery, extrapolated by mathematics, of a distant “Planet Nine” far out in our Solar System.
Credit: Astronomy September 2016 Issue, NASA.