2000s Decade Recap - Science and Space

The new millennium began with questions about the dependability of technology. Well, the Y2K disaster never happened, and technology continued to be our best friend. With artificial hearts and entire face transplants being used with success, the human race was on its way to solving some of life’s huge problems and mysteries. One such unknown was the age of the Universe, a piece of information that was discovered in the 2000s. Space exploration began investigating our planetary neighbor Mars, and found proof that planet once housed water. In this video, WatchMojo.com reviews these and more scientific milestones from the first decade of the new millennium.

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2000s Decade Recap - Science and Space

What Kind of Decade was it?

Well, increasing fears and proof of global warming led earthlings to look elsewhere for signs of life, so the mission to Mars made incredible headway.

Yeah, that’s the kind of decade that it was in Science.

The millennium started out with a breakthrough in the world of DNA sequencing. The Human Genome Project completed the first working draft of the entire human genome sequence in the year 2000. This meant we came closer to understanding the genetic makeup of humans. From this we’ve gained insight into the causes of aging, cancer, and the immune system.

The results of the project were finally published the next year, in 2001. In February of 2001, the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft finally landed on the surface of Eros, a near-Earth asteroid. Previous to this, the NEAR Shoemaker had spent years orbiting Eros and photographing its surface. This event in 2001 marked the first time a spacecraft landed on an asteroid.

In July of 2001, the world’s first artificial heart was implanted into a 58-year-old American man. He subsequently lived 151 days without a living heart.

Launched by NASA in 2001, the 2001 Mars Odyssey is a spacecraft orbiting the planet Mars. The Odyssey’s mapping mission began in February 2002, and later that year it found evidence of water ice deposits on Mars.

2003 was a tough year in the history of space exploration. On February 1st, the Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, killing the seven member crew on-board. This catastrophe put the construction of the International Space Station on hold, and halted space shuttle operations for two years.

2003 saw one of the great mysteries of the Universe solved: its age. A NASA satellite provided a detailed map of the universe, which revealed the Big Bang took place 13.7 billion years ago.

2004 was a continuation of the exploration of the red planet. January saw NASA’s two Mars Exploration Rovers, named Spirit and Opportunity, touch down on Mars. This Mars Rover mission’s primary objective was to discover the history of water on the red planet, based on information from rocks and soil. By March of 2004, major discoveries had been made suggesting water had once flowed on Mars. Also in 2004, NASA launched MESSENGER, a spacecraft designed to study Mercury from orbit.

2005 was the World Year of Physics, a 100-year anniversary honouring Albert Einstein’s landmark papers of 1905, and the ensuing progress in the field of physics. It was also estimated to be the warmest year on record, since these records started in 1800.

2005 was also the year that the first partial human face transplant was successfully completed in France on a woman whose face had been mauled by her dog. The operation, while restoring her face, also restored her ability to eat and speak.

On a worldwide scale, global warming was becoming an increasingly worrisome problem. 2006 saw a study published which showed the 20th century featured the warmest temperatures in well over 1,000 years, particularly in the latter part of the century.

NASA made public in 2006 its plans to build a permanent base on the Moon, once astronauts begin returning there in 2020. This station would act as both a science centre and a possible pit stop for future manned missions to Mars.

Another planetary event came in 2006, when Pluto was demoted from its planet-status and redesignated a dwarf planet.

At the end of 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration released its findings that meat and milk from cloned animals is safe to eat.

The Mission to Mars continued in 2007 when the Phoenix Mars Lander was launched in August. The Phoenix was meant to continue the investigation into the history of water on the red planet, as well as search for environments suitable for life.

Phoenix finally landed on Mars in May 2008. In June of that year, it is found that the soil on Mars is friendlier to life than anticipated, with conditions suitable for growing asparagus. In July 2008, Phoenix confirmed the presence of water on Mars, something NASA’s Odyssey orbiter had predicted six years earlier. Finally in November, the Phoenix Mars Lander stopped communicating with Earth after a successful mission.

After nearly 15 years and nearly $5 billion, the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, created by the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN, conducted its first experiment in 2008. The aim of this machine was to answer the fundamental questions of physics. The machine caused some controversy, when theories suggested particle collisions might create Black Holes, and basically cause the end of the world. It was deemed safe, and the experiments continued. The first proton beam was successfully guided around the accelerator in September. Only a few days later, however, a magnet in the LHC failed, causing substantial damage and requiring extensive repairs.

These repairs took over a year, and the LHC was finally re-launched in November 2009, when proton beams were again successfully circulated.

2009 was also dubbed the International Year of Astronomy, to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first telescope.

“The first decade of the new millennium has been a turbulent one for the field of science. However, with every discovery comes new hope for breakthroughs in medicine, space travel, and physics. Ultimately leading us as human civilization to more and more philosophical questions about our universe, which science will always attempt to answer.”

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