NASA Reaches New Heights in 2015


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In 2015, NASA explored the expanse of our solar system and beyond, and the complex processes of our home planet, while also advancing the technologies for our journey to Mars, and new aviation systems as the agency reached new milestones aboard the International Space Station.

“It was a fantastic year that brought us even closer to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Our space program welcomed advances from commercial partners who will soon launch astronauts from the United States to the International Space Station, and progress on new technologies and missions to take us into deep space, improve aviation and explore our universe and home planet.”

Solar System & Beyond

NASA is exploring our solar system and beyond to unravel the mysteries of our universe. After a decade-long journey, the agency’s New Horizons spacecraft completed a historic flyby of Pluto in July, making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth. New Horizons captured never-before-seen views of the distant dwarf planet and its moons, and collected data that will keep scientists busy for years to come, returning the data and images to Earth using NASA’s Space Network.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft made history in March with another dwarf planet, Ceres, when it became the first spacecraft to orbit such a celestial body.

In October, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made the closest-ever flyby of Saturn’s moon Enceladus -- capturing valuable scientific data from the plume of icy spray coming from the moon’s subsurface ocean.

In the search for a twin of our home world, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft confirmed in July the first near-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone around a sun-like star 1,400 light-years away.

Back on Earth, NASA managers working the early stages of the agency’s Europa mission selected nine science instruments to investigate whether Jupiter’s mysterious icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.

The first of 18 flight mirrors for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope were installed in November, beginning a critical piece of the observatory’s construction ahead of its 2018 launch.

In April, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a Great Observatory that forever transformed our understanding of the universe, celebrated 25 years of scientific discovery. After its last astronaut servicing mission in 2009, Hubble is better than ever and expected to continue to provide valuable data into the next decade.

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