Year End Special: The Top Ten Science Stories Of 2011

No meteors crashed, no aliens descended. Yet, 2011 was by all means an eventful year! We take a tour of the geeky side of life, with a dash of science! Presenting below are the top 10 science stories in 2011. The list is completely the author’s choice and you are free to disagree with both the ordering and the content. Just let us know, if you do (or even if you don’t)!

Here goes…

Choice 10: Much ado about James Webb

The James Webb Telescope, a proposed super replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope, has been under the weather and it has been hard going for NASA. There has been much talk about this telescope taking money out of the other NASA projects.

A mirror on the James Webb telescope. Isn't she a beauty!!

With several budget overruns and a similar number of missed deadlines, it was on the brink of extinction. We told you about the proposed plan to scrap the project altogether. It was then revived by further funding the project from the Senate.

Cannot miss article: How the US fund cuts affect Science

Choice 9: The Tevatron said Goodbye

The once biggest and baddest boy on the block, when it came to particle colliders, bid a timid goodbye this year, far overshadowed by the much more powerful LHC at CERN.

The LHC bids farewell to the Tevatron. (Look at the bottom-left box)

LHC will now carry the mantle of high energy physics research. However, the Tevatron will be missed. It was the first machine to clock 1 TeV energy scale.

Cannot miss article: The end of an era: Fermilab’s Tevatron shuts down A Tribute

Choice 8: Mission to Mars

Mars was a great place to visit for NASA, and not-so-great for Roskosmos this year. NASA launched the giant super hi-tech rover Curiosity’, which is set to replace the previous rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Curiosity is way more powerful and has a host of cool features.

The Curiosity Rover

On the other hand, Roskosmos, the Russian space agency, embarrassed itself with the failed attempt of putting Phobos-Grunt, a craft intended to be orbiting Phobos, the moon of Mars. The craft later made contact with Earth, but couldn’t be recovered!

Cannot miss article: The 10 Coolest Things about the Mars Rover Curiosity

Choice 7: To the Moon

Yeah, the ancients did think that the Moon could’ve been a not-so-smiling face, but we’ve been there, know better and wanted to go back. NASA decided to measure the gravitational field of the only natural satellite of Earth, and do so in style. Thus the GRAIL mission.

No, the moon’s still not habitable, but when it is, we’ll have Domino’s pizza there!

Oh, and yes, the moon did disappear twice this year. Here’re a collection of stunning images from across the world of the first eclipse in July (here) and from the second eclipse in December (here).

Cannot miss article: NASA releases never before seen photos of the moon showing previous moon missions

Choice 6: Planets outside our own Solar System

This has been a boom year for exoplanets! The Kepler Space Telescope found tonnes of planets orbiting other suns! The most promising of these have been Kepler 22b, the only planet found so far to lie in the Goldilocks zone. Further, we found two Earth sized planets around a sun-like star. For me, the best was the discovery of the planet which orbits two stars!

Cannot miss article:  Planet orbiting two stars a real-life Tatooine

Published by

Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.

  • Temari

    Awesome news!!!!Thanks :)