From faraway planets to the deepest depths of the ocean, 2012 has been an exciting year for scientific achievements and milestones.
Humans broke previously unimaginable barriers by detecting an elusive tiny particle and free-falling 24 miles from the edge of space. At the same time, we said goodbye to four retired NASA space shuttles that found new museum-type homes.
Here's our list of the biggest science achievements this year, in order of significance:
1. Curiosity lands, performs science on Mars
Every time I hear the word "curiosity" in a sentence, I'm tempted to butt in and ask if you're talking about the Mars rover Curiosity. She's really there! On Mars! Right now! And people are driving it! (Forgive me, I get excited about this.)
Science is amazing. I'm glad to be part of the highest primate species on our planet. The fifth ape of earth.
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July 19thAtlas V launch of US DOD MUOS-2 satellite, notable for large "551" config of Atlas
Aug 3rdJapanese HTV-4 flight to ISS on cargo supply mission
Aug 14thSpaceX launch of Canadian satellite in the first launch from their new Vandenberg facility, and first launch of upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle
Aug 28thDelta IV Heavy launch of NROL-65 spy satellite
SeptemberSoyuz TMA-08M flight returning Expedition 36 crew from ISS to Earth (Kazakhstan)
Sept 12thOrbital Sciences maiden flight of Cygnus cargo vehicle on Antares rocket to ISS
Sept 25thSoyuz TMA-10M flight launching Expedition 38 crew to ISS
Dec 9thSpaceX Dragon launch by Falcon 9 v1.1 on CRS-3 cargo supply mission to ISS
recurringfirst powered test flights of Scaled Composites' SpaceShipTwo commercial vehicle, to be used by Virgin Galactic for sub-orbital tourism