Scientists believe our planet has a metallic inner core, but we can’t exactly crack it open and check. Instead, NASA is sending a mission to an asteroid named Psyche, which appears to be a nickel-iron planetary core a lot like the one at the center of the Earth.
What is a hybrid rocket motor? What advantages does it have over conventional liquid and solid propellant rocket motors? These questions point to an exciting breakthrough that occurred on December 13, 2018, when Virgin Galactic successfully launched VSS Unity on its first suborbital flight.
As we prepare to ring in a new year, let’s revisit some of our favorite stories of 2018: stories that let you look closer at our collections, dive into the history of women in space and aviation, and explore our Museum in DC from your own home.
The moment of humankind's first voyage to the Moon and back was captured in a series of photos taken by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observing Station in Maui, Hawaii. They show the trans-lunar injection rocket burn which sent Apollo 8 hurtling out of Earth orbit toward the Moon on December 21, 1968–perhaps the only such images that exist.