Cosmologists, astronomers and space engineers are predicting that 2021 will be a great year for space exploration. An increasing number of countries and commercial companies are investing in technology to venture into the heavens. Entrepreneurs like SpaceX's Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson are setting their sights on space tourism and sending astronauts to Mars. What once seemed like science fiction is quickly becoming space fact. Such are the advances in technology, we might no longer be surprised at news of asteroids being mined, Mars being colonised, or of new forms of holidays, such as getaway weekend breaks to the Moon.
The year will start with an exciting project that will help scientists better understand the universe. NASA will launch its Q-PACE probe on January the 15th. This will study the collision of small particles in space to provide an insight into how planets originally formed. A month later, NASA's Perseverance rover will land on Mars. This mission will test for signs of possible past microbial life. NASA said: "Returning samples of Mars to Earth has been a goal of planetary scientists since the early days of the space age." In October, the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Telescope, will launch into space. Its mission is to observe the first galaxies that formed in the early universe.