This is what 2 of the first galaxies formed after the Big Bang look like 0:48
This year, humanity has gained glimpses of the universe in ways never before possible, and space missions have taken unprecedented leaps to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos.
We witnessed the first mission to the International Space Station funded entirely by space tourists.
A new space-based Internet service played a key role in the Ukrainian war.
And there were historic launches of spacecraft and technology by NASA and its international partners that could one day be used to land humans on Mars.
"There is no question that 2022 was out of this world," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
The year "2022 will go down in the history books as one of the most accomplished years across all NASA missions," he mused.
Here are some of the unforgettable space moments and discoveries of 2022.
Takeoff of the Artemis I lunar mission
Watch Artemis 1 blast off to the Moon 0:59
After years of preparation, NASA finally kicked off its latest lunar exploration program with an uncrewed test flight that took an astronaut-worthy spacecraft around the Moon.
The mission was packed with great moments.
The rocket that launched the mission, the Space Launch System or SLS, became the most powerful rocket ever put into orbit, with 15% more thrust than the Saturn V rockets of the Apollo program.
Upon reaching space, the Orion capsule, which flew empty except for a few test dummies, captured stunning images of Earth and the Moon.
And Orion's orbital path went farther than the far side of the Moon than any other spacecraft designed to carry humans.
The trial has paved the way for future Artemis missions, with an eye to returning humans to the lunar surface before charting a route for the first manned spaceflight to Mars.
The Artemis I mission captures the Orion spacecraft, the Earth and the Moon in a single image
The Webb telescope reveals the invisible universe
The James Webb Space Telescope captured this image of the spiral galaxy IC 5332. (Credit: ESA/NASA/CSA/J. Lee)
In collaboration with international space agencies, NASA not only advanced its human exploration program, but also made strides forward in science.
After decades of anticipation, the James Webb Space Telescope finally began observing the universe in July.
Since then, the world's most powerful space observatory has gazed at planets, stars and galaxies in infrared light, invisible to the naked eye.
The telescope has taken a look at never-before-seen aspects of the universe and features that were hidden, including the most distant galaxies ever observed.
Webb has also shared new perspectives on some of Astronomy's favorite cosmic features and captured them in a new light, like the Pillars of Creation.
The telescope's images have already exceeded astronomers' expectations.
And the best news is that the Webb has only just begun.
Spectacular images of two merging galaxies photographed by the Webb telescope
Observe astronomical wonders of space for the first time
However, the Webb telescope has not been the only space observatory that has expanded our understanding of deep space.
The Hubble Space Telescope spotted the most distant single star ever observed, glowing faintly at 28 billion light-years.
The star existed only 900 million years after the Big Bang created the universe, and its light has traveled nearly 13 billion years to reach Earth.
Astronomers nicknamed the star Earendel, derived from an Old English word meaning "morning star" or "rising light."
Meanwhile, astronomers used the Event Horizon telescope to capture an image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy for the first time.
This first direct observation confirmed the presence of the black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, as the beating heart of the Milky Way.
Although black holes do not emit light, the cosmic object's shadow was surrounded by a bright ring: light bent by the black hole's gravity.
The best images of space in 2022, according to ESA 2:11
Displace the trajectory of an asteroid in space
The rocky surface of Dimorphos was the last thing the DART mission spacecraft saw before crashing into the asteroid.
At the end of September, NASA successfully completed the first test mission for planetary defense.
The space agency crashed a spacecraft into Dimorphos, a small asteroid that orbits a larger space rock called Didymos.
And yes, the collision was intentional.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, was a full-scale demonstration of deflection technology.
Neither Dimorphos nor Didymos pose a threat to Earth, but the system was a perfect target to test a technique that could one day be used to shield the planet from an asteroid impact.
The DART mission marked the first time humanity intentionally modified the motion of a celestial object in space.
The spacecraft altered the lunar asteroid's orbit in 32 minutes.
NASA announces plans to study UFOs
And that's not all that 2022 offered when it comes to studying unusual objects in space.
In June, NASA announced that it would delve into the mysteries surrounding unidentified aerial phenomena (UFOs), more popularly known as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs.
Subsequently, the space agency selected for the task a team of experts in numerous disciplines, including Astrobiology, Data Science, Oceanography, Genetics, Politics and Planetary Science.
NASA officials are not suggesting that aliens may be responsible for such phenomena.
The goal is simply to take a serious look at the still unexplained but highly publicly debated topic and how these objects could be studied from a scientific point of view.
"Without access to a comprehensive data set, it is almost impossible to verify or explain any observation, so the goal of the study is to inform NASA of possible data that could be collected in the future to scientifically discern the nature of NIAFs." , according to a NASA press release.
The mystery of UFOs will be studied by scientific team 1:06
milestones on mars
Are these the last photos from the Insight mission on Mars?
Meanwhile, on the red planet, the InSight lander's mission came to an end due to excessive dust on its solar arrays (and no whirlwinds to suck them in), but the stationary spacecraft made history in 2022. InSight detected the largest earthquake on Mars and captured the sound of space rocks hitting the planet, creating craters that revealed treasure troves of ice below the surface.
This is the eerie sound of a swirl of dust in Martian lands 0:40
As InSight draws to a close, the companion to the Perseverance rover has continued to soar the Martian skies beyond its original five-flight mission.
The Ingenuity helicopter has broken its own altitude record and has made 37 flights over the red planet since April 2021. The small helicopter has acted as an aerial surveyor for Perseverance, which collected an incredible diversity of Martian rock and sediment samples.
Now the rover is preparing a repository of samples to be stored on the Martian surface.
The samples will be recovered and returned to Earth in 2033 through the ambitious Mars Sample Return program, which will send a lander and a duo of recovery helicopters to the red planet later this decade.
An interstellar meteorite visits our cosmic neighborhood
Speaking of space rocks, a rare specimen traveled to Earth in 2014. But scientists put the pieces of the puzzle together only this year, announcing their discovery in a US Space Command paper.
The first known interstellar meteor to strike Earth crashed off the northeast coast of Papua New Guinea in January 2014.
Interstellar meteors are space rocks originating outside our solar system, such as ʻOumuamua, the first known interstellar object in our solar system that was detected in 2017.
Debris from Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Discovered
Deep in the sea: they find remains of the Challenger shuttle 0:52
No doubt, NASA has had much success this year, but it has also faced memories of tragedy and disaster.
In March, investigators set out to search for suspected shipwrecks in the Bermuda Triangle, a stretch of the North Atlantic Ocean where dozens of shipwrecks and plane crashes have occurred, for a television documentary series.
But the team stumbled upon something unexpected elsewhere on Florida's east coast: a 20-foot-long piece of wreckage from the space shuttle Challenger, which broke up shortly after liftoff in 1986, killing all seven of its crew. on board.
This is the first wreckage discovered since pieces of the shuttle washed ashore in 1996.
"This discovery gives us an opportunity to pause once more, to remember the legacy of the seven pioneers we have lost, and to reflect on how this tragedy has changed us," Nelson said.
"At NASA, the core value of safety is—and must always remain—our highest priority, especially as our missions explore more of the cosmos than ever before."
A fledgling satellite system provides internet to war-torn Ukraine
When Russia launched its invasion in February and parts of Ukraine were left without internet access, a space-based system that barely existed a few years ago began providing crucial connectivity.
Elon Musk's SpaceX designed and launched the system, called Starlink.
It uses thousands of small satellites in orbit a few hundred kilometers from Earth.
Satellites work in tandem to blanket the planet in internet connectivity, and all it takes to connect is an easy-to-use Starlink satellite dish.
Musk and SpaceX shipped thousands of these antennas to Ukraine.
Though controversy later arose over its funding, the Eastern European country's use of Starlink was hailed as a game-changer in strategic communication for its military, allowing Ukraine to fight effectively, even as the war raged. course disrupted mobile phone networks and the Internet.
First private mission to the space station
Larry Connor, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Mark Pathy, Michael Lopez-Alegria, and Eytan Stibbe.
However, Starlink is a small part of SpaceX's booming business.
The company launches not only satellites, but also astronauts into space on behalf of NASA.
And this year, SpaceX even flew a few wealthy thrill-seekers to the International Space Station on a mission managed by Axiom.
It was the first mission to the space station paid for entirely by customers and involving only private citizens.
There were four crew members.
Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut turned Axiom employee, was the mission commander.
And the three paying clients were Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe, Canadian investor Mark Pathy and Ohio real estate magnate Larry Connor.
The mission, called AX-1, took off on April 8 and was originally going to last 10 days.
However, the delays prolonged the mission by about a week.
Allowing private missions to the space station is part of NASA's plan to increase commercial activity in low-Earth orbit as it focuses on deep space exploration.
CNN's Alex Marquardt contributed to this report.
CNN's Alex Marquardt contributed to this report.