Can You Name the NASA Missions From the Last 20 Years?

Tasha Moore

Image: WikiCommons by NASA

About This Quiz

NASA is everywhere! Learn just how nosey the most technologically advanced organization in the universe has been over the past 20 years. We've got the skinny on NASA missions that will wow even the wildest imagination. Identify the right missions, and we'll explain what makes these expeditions so great!

Thank goodness for the inquisitive, busy minds of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA's investigations have led to remarkable discoveries that have radically revolutionized the way today's leading physical scientists and astrophysicists view the world. Surveillance has been of chief concern. State-of-the-art satellites propel high-powered telescopes and probing instruments that continually capture and transmit images of comets, the Sun and other celestial bodies. Starting in 2009, the Kepler observatory maintained a steady, unblinking lookout for Earth-like planets that orbit 100,000 stars that resemble our Sun and are buried deep in the Milky Way galaxy. In 2011, NASA sent its Juno spacecraft to spy the solar system's biggest planet, Jupiter. Not only did Juno collect data on the planet's cloudy outersphere, but the smart spacecraft was able to collect data concerning its inner makeup.

You'll soon see how NASA has long spearheaded ecological campaigns, as well. After taking this quiz, you'll know more about "SEAC4RS" data concerning air pollutants, "CINDI's" intel concerning Earth's fragile upper atmosphere and so much more cool NASA-mission stuff!


What is the 2001 NASA venture that involved an underwater domain in Key Largo, Florida?

NEEMO is the acronym for NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations. Since an underwater environment is similar to the low-gravity conditions of space, NASA periodically sends scientists and engineers, known as aquanauts, to train for space missions in the 62-foot-deep Aquarius research station.

The 2003 ________ project investigated changes in polar ice heights?

NASA began investigating the accelerating rate of change of polar ice heights in 2003 with the ICESat mission. Then in 2009, the organization conducted airborne analysis during Operation IceBridge. In 2018, ICESat-2 was launched into space to continue this work using more advanced techniques.

Guess the 2014 commission that monitored ocean winds from aboard the International Space Station?

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California designed the International Space Station (ISS)-RapidScat scatterometer. The machine was the first technological instrument created to function from outside the space station.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket hurled the ________ in 2010?

Lockheed Martin Corporation's Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California crafted NASA's 6,800-pound Solar Dynamics Observatory. The instrument has collected up to 1.4 terabytes of data daily, capturing an image of the solar corona every 0.75 of a second.

Do you know the 2009 expedition that facilitated an unblinking search for Earth-like planets orbiting thousands of Sun-like bodies in the Milky Way?

The Kepler observatory was named for 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler, who was the first to establish the laws of planetary motion. In 2013, the spacecraft ended its mission due to worn-out reaction wheels.

It took some time for NASA's 2011 ________ spacecraft to reach Jupiter?

Juno was launched in 2011 but didn't reach Jupiter until July 2016. NASA's spacecraft was commissioned to probe Jupiter's interior makeup, evolution and cloudy atmosphere, a considerable feat as Jupiter's the largest planet in the solar system. The mission has cost $1.1 billion.

Decide the 2004 NASA task that involved two six-wheel rovers?

NASA's Spirit rover failed to adhere to orders from Earth because of old data that confused the machine to assume it had gathered Mars data from the year 2053, at one point. Roughly 6,000 miles away on Mars' surface, the Opportunity rover confirmed proper functionality by relaying a crater image.

Name the 2005 trial that was sent along a 268-mile path to enable interception of the Tempel 1 comet?

During its mission, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft unhitched an impactor, which is an 820-pound copper projectile from which Deep Impact collected data after the projectile collided with Tempel 1. The comet was measured to be roughly half the size of Manhattan.

Provide the name of the NASA pursuit that took approximately 20 days to move into orbit?

NASA's Jason-1 has orbited at 830 miles high, monitoring the coastal regions of the ocean and taking snapshots of Earth ocean circulation every 10 days using a radar altimeter. Jason-1 allowed researchers to obtain 50% more accurate coverage than previously.

Is it difficult for you to determine the 2008 endeavor that was slated to run for two years?

IBEX, or Interstellar Boundary Explorer, is one of the first NASA spacecraft to capture images and detail how the cold expanse of space interrelates with hot solar wind. The launch position for IBEX was the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific Ocean at the U.S. Army's Reagan testing facility.

Try to quickly guess NASA's 2001 $268 million plan to collect solar wind samples?

For three years, NASA's Genesis space capsule traveled in the sun's direction but crashed into the Utah desert after covering a span of two million miles. The 420-pound capsule plummeted to Earth at a speed of 200 mph, creating a partial dent in the desert's surface on impact.

Which one of NASA's 2018 missions was first due to launch from the Marshall Islands, but instead was projected from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California?

A problem with the launch rocket's rudder sensor prompted ICON's launch site switch. NASA's ICON, which stands for Ionospheric Connection Explorer, has investigated the area where space converges with the Earth's atmosphere.

Is it too hard for you to detect the 1999 operation that drastically changed scientific speculations about galaxy and star formation?

John Hopkins University operated NASA's FUSE, or Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, satellite. One significant finding that scientists discovered during its mission is that the Milky Way galaxy contains much more "heavy" hydrogen than was first predicted.

Do you ID the project that NASA initiated on May 4, 2002, to determine the causes and effects of global change?

NASA's Aqua satellite has been used to facilitate Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument project. When the devices were launched in 2002, AIRS was predicted to outlast Aqua satellite's fuel capacity, which was expected to deplete as of 2017.

On March 12, 2015, the ________ launched successfully aboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket?

SolAero Technologies Corp. supplied the solar panels on the four Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft. Their mission has been to monitor magnetic reconnection, which is a common process that occurs throughout the universe whereby fields connect and disconnect to emit an explosion of accelerating particles.

The ________ was cast on a second attempt in 2014 after technical problems and wind issues prevented a first attempt?

NASA's Orion mission, which involved four people in a long-range, next-generation space capsule, propelled to a height 15 times that of the International Space Station. Orion was the first craft to transport humans to such a high elevation since the Apollo space program.

From among the options, choose the 2008 mission named in honor of a pioneer in high-energy physics?

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is a high-powered gamma-ray satellite that has provided some of the most detailed views of the universe. The satellite has investigated pulsars, gamma-ray bursts and other galaxies.

How easily can you select the 2018 NASA spacecraft that's about the size of a small car?

NASA's Parker Solar Probe was launched on a United Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The probe's intended path was a loop beyond Venus toward the sun.

Do you notice the 2018 mission that was flung into orbit on Jun 29 and installed on the International Space Station on July 5?

NASA's ECOSTRESS mission has measured the temperature of plant life on Earth. Scientists have used the instrument's data to help determine the amount of water that plants need and how vegetation reacts to stress.

Starting in 1999, which NASA effort compiled data concerning the direction and acceleration of winds at the ocean surface?

The June 1999 launch of NASA's QuikSCAT (Quick Scatterometer) mission was delayed for 24 hours. Ultimately, the spacecraft was successfully launched from Lockheed Martin Corporation's Titan II rocket out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The projection site for the 2000 ________ expedition was the Kwajalein Missile Range in the Marshall Islands?

Scientists at Orbital Sciences Corporation launched NASA's HETE-2, or High Energy Transient Explorer 2, satellite from a Pegasus rocket on October 9, 2000. Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers crafted the 275-pound satellite, which has monitored gamma-ray bursts.

Please pick the 2013 project that launched several NASA firsts?

The aim of the Luna Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, has been to retrieve data concerning surface conditions and environmental factors that affect lunar dust. When LADEE launched, it was the first mission of the Minotaur V rocket and the first use of a high-data-rate laser system.

Atmospheric science pioneer NASA Langley headed the 2013 _______ study?

SEAC4RS, pronounced "Seekers," is an abbreviation for Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys. The mission has analyzed the effects of air pollutants and natural emissions on the Earth's climate and atmosphere.

Do you recall the 2009 investigation that was initiated from an Atlas V rocket at 5:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on June 18?

NASA's LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observing and Sensing Satellite) mission cost $504 million to implement. The rear of a polar crater was an intended collision target during the spacecraft's attempt for a moon landing. Scientists aimed to study the material composition of resultant collision debris.

See if you can decide the NASA satellite hurled in 2000 to roughly 280 miles altitude in a proximate-circular orbit with an inclination of 87.3 degrees?

Launched on July 15, 2000, NASA's CHAMP (Challenging Mini-satellite Payload) instrument was used to monitor Earth's magnetic field and gravity measurements over time. Data recovered from the CHAMP satellite has been used to analyze geomagnetic storms, among other phenomena. The image here is an artist's interpretation of the satellite.

How well do you understand the 2003 undertaking that was launched aboard NASA's Pegasus(R) rocket on April 28 from Cape Canaveral, Florida?

The 690-pound GALEX, which stands for Galaxy Evolution Explorer, was launched into a circular orbit 420 miles above the Earth's surface. The Pegasus rocket has been used to launch various small satellites into low-Earth orbit.

What's the 1999 heat-sensing instrument used to analyze how galaxies and stars formed as the universe evolved?

WIRE, which stands for Wide-Field Infrared Explorer, is a telescope built by Utah State University. NASA constructed the telescope-carrying WIRE satellite, which spun out of control during the spacecraft's 1999 launch. Eventually, engineers managed to gain control of the machine.

Guess the 2002 assignment that's one of NASA's Sun-Earth Connection missions?

RHESSI (Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager) was built by Spectrum Astro, Inc. and first launched February 5, 2002. This NASA satellite was designed to monitor solar phenomena.

Name NASA's 2009 repurposed infrared telescope?

First launched as Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), NASA's NEOWISE has amassed a vast image catalog of celestial objects. The sensitive telescope has been tasked with detecting Earth-bound asteroids, in particular.

A ground-system issue postponed the initial launch of the 1999 ________ effort?

NASA's $1.2 billion Terra satellite was launched by a Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS rocket and carried five highly technological instruments, including devices from Japan and Canada. NASA described the project as the "flagship" of the company's Earth Observing System.

It was one of the first missions that used Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) technology. Name the 2018 NASA mission?

PACE, or Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem, is the first mission to use DTN capabilities transfer data in a similar way as the internet. The PACE mission has utilized optical instruments to delineate the type and amount of phytoplankton available in the ocean.

Principal investigators Jacques Pelon and David Winker headed what 2006 assignment?

Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) launched on April 28, 2006, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. CALIPSO has offered a 3-D view of Earth's clouds and airborne particles known as aerosols.

Can you name the 2008 NASA mission that probed the chemical makeup of the Arctic's lower atmosphere?

NASA's ARCTAS mission has helped scientists to better understand how air pollution affects climate change in the Arctic region. The ARCTAS acronym stands for Arctic Research of the Composition of the Troposphere from Aircraft and Satellites.

Quickly select NASA's 2000 prototype built for more cost-effective space tasks?

Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2000, the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite was built by Swales Aerospace and packaged with less-expensive earth-imaging technology than that of previous satellites. The EO-1 has operated years beyond its intended duration of one year.

Label the infrared observatory used to probe the cosmos starting in 2009?

NASA's Herschel infrared spacecraft technology can detect light that the human eye cannot see. In 2014, scientists using the observatory discovered the first trace of water vapor on Ceres, the largest celestial mass of the asteroid belt.

NASA's 2008 ________ mission was intended to determine ionization of the upper atmosphere?

Information collected during NASA's Coupled Ion Neutral Dynamics Investigation mission, or CINDI, has led investigators to determine that the border between space and the Earth's upper atmosphere has moved to drastically low altitudes. The CINDI project was launched aboard C/NOFS in April 2008.

What 2001 NASA project did astrophysicist Charles L. Bennett of John Hopkins lead?

The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, otherwise known as WMAP, has increased the accuracy of scientific estimates, including the density of non-atomic matter, the density of atoms and the age of the universe.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate awarded Dartmouth College $9.3 million for which 2013 project?

Dartmouth's Robyn Millan was the principal investigator of the NASA-funded mission dubbed BARREL, or "Balloon Array for Radiation-belt Relativistic Electron Losses." Millan has used 40 high-altitude balloons to retrieve information concerning the Van Allen Belts discovered in 1958.

Do you identify the NASA investigation destined to cover 1.7 billion miles in 2007 to study two asteroids?

NASA outfitted a Delta 2 rocket with nine fuel boosters for the Dawn mission, which launched in 2007. The goal has been to study the asteroids Vesta in 2011 and Ceres in 2015, both positioned between Jupiter and Mars.

Have you figured out the NASA mission that launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Wednesday, April 25, 2007?

NASA's AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) mission was the first endeavor dedicated to investigating peculiar ice clouds of the planet's polar zones that rim the border of space. The clouds of interest are "noctilucent," meaning they are observable from Earth only at night.

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