2013 was the year in which an billion year old object from the cosmos shot through or atmosphere, whilst another from Earth hurtled into the uncharted territory of interstellar space and beyond.
Early in the year, on the 15th February, stargazers were gearing up for the flyby of a unusually large asteroid. However on the day of the pass a different 10,000 tone asteroid burned up over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia which injured more than 1,000 as its shockwave rocked buildings and shattered glass.
This unusual event gave scientists an unprecedented opportunity to study the make up of an asteroid strike. Mainly thanks to what the Russian’s call: “dashcams”, installed by Russian drivers to avoid police corruption or insurance problems. The largest chunk from the asteroid was retrieved from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul.
Voyager’s epic journey remerged into the headlines in September as the first, man made object to leave our Solar System. In March, scientists at NASA had outlined results showing that the Voyager 1 probe had left the heliosphere, which is a hot bubble of gas from our Sun, in August 2012. But officials from the space agency quickly dismissed these claims.
By September the outlook had changed considerably, as mission scientists published their own evidence combined with additional data, which had confirmed that the probe had entered the region between stars. Although a handful remain doubtful the probe, launched in 1977, looks to have reached interstellar space.
In May, BBC News was the first to break the story of the world’s first 3D printed gun to be fired successfully in the US. It was tested by a controversial group in the US who fired it at a firing range in Austin, Texas. This could hopefully open a potential to have a world where technology says you can pretty much whatever you want. This blueprint that was later released online had been downloaded about 100,000 times in just under a week. The US government then forced it’s removal because of criticism from anti-gun campaigners.
A US-led venture to map the wiring of the brain released its first results in March. The Human Connectome Project was designed to help determined how a person’s brain structure affects their strengths, weaknesses and behaviours. Efforts were also underway to understand the workings of the teenage brain, to id4entfy the changes that the brain undergoes to control impulsive and emotional behaviour as they mature. Another astonishing feet was that scientists in Japan had been able to use MRI scans to “read” images that people have seen in their dreams.
Lastly, not forgetting, Canada’s social media hit, space station commander Chris Hafdfield who handed over command of the ISS after hammering out a zero-g version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. Who then later retired from the Canadian Space Agency.Since retiring he has gone on tour (ending Christmas Eve) on various book signings (Chris Hadfield – An Astronaut’s guide to Life on Earth) and talks, including visiting London in late December.