8 major events of 2015 - The SpaceX Falcon 9 Re-usable Rocket pictured here.

Ok, we’re one day away from New Year’s Eve. As that night passes into the next morning, 2016 will have arrived.

So, it’s fitting that we take a look at the year we’re leaving behind, because it sure did have more than enough major events to leave a mark on our memory, for good or for worse.

Say what you will, but we are, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your views and feelings, living interesting times.

Sure times of tension, violence and upheaval. But also times of stunning technological progress and the promise of a better future.

For example, did you know that the United Nations General Assembly chose the name “The International Year of Light” for 2015, in order to draw attention to the capital importance of light science for the future of mankind, as well as the major advances recently made in this direction?

In honor of this past year, here’s 8 major events of 2015. But to give you a good start in the new year, we’ll only focus on the positive things that happened this past year.

1. Where No Man Made Object Has Gone Before

8 major events of 2015 - NASA Dawn (a probe like the one in the photo) reaches Ceres

On the 6th of March, NASA’s Dawn probe reached the Dwarf Planet Ceres, entering orbit around the space object. No other spacecraft had achieved this feat before. And the ongoing study of the planet is just one more proof of the renewed interest in space travel and exploration.

And if that wasn’t impressive, another of NASA’s probes, the New Horizons, reached Pluto on July the 14th, the first spacecraft to ever reach the very remote planet (for current technology).

2. Thank The Healers

The World Health Organization Logo.

On the 29th of April, the sustained efforts of doctors and medical personnel in the Americas were rewarded with the eradication of rubella (a form of measles) from these territories. This was proudly announced and lauded by the World Health Organization who monitors diseases and epidemics globally.

3. Art’s Not Insignificant

One of the 8 major events of 2015 was the purchase of the art work featured in this photo.

In the age of Information, Speed and computers, you might be inclined to believe that people no longer have time for quietly and patiently focusing on something as non-interactive as art. But you’d be wrong. As proven by the purchase of  L’Homme au doigt by Alberto Giacometti (sculpture) for 141.3 million $ and Les Femmes d’Alger by Pablo Picasso (painting) for 179.3 million $ respectively, making them both new record setters for these categories.

4. Babies Are Protected

Mother holding baby's hand

Cuba set an admirable record on June 30, by becoming the first country in the world validated by the World Health Organization (WHO) for its sustained and successful efforts to drop the transmission of HIV and syphilis from infected mothers to their unborn babies. The target was below 50 births with infection per 100,000 births in a year. Cuba managed to have just 2 – a testament to its dedication.

What’s more, 30 other countries have applied for validation and are under analysis. While the US and Canada have not applied but are widely considered to have achieved the same performance.

5. Water Under The Bridge

Drawing of a US Cuba handshake

In an excellent example of hope for the future, Cuba once again makes the list, along with the USA. Because on the 20th of July these two countries ended 54 long years of diplomatic tensions and shunning, to reestablish full diplomatic relations.

6. Let There Be Colonies

The list of 8 major events of 2015 includes liquid water on Mars, as evident in the NASA photo here.

In one of the most exciting confirmations of a matter long-speculated, NASA announced that there is liquid water on Mars on the 28th of September. This fact alone makes building a colony on the Red Planet and ultimately terra-forming it a whole lot easier, thus giving hope of more security for the human species as a whole, not to mention some serious adventure to look forward to for future generations.

7. All For Green

The Paris COP 21 Summit, whose poster is photographed here, is one of the 8 major events of 2015.

On December 12th the long-awaited agreement came. Around 200 countries signed the global climate change pact at the COP 21 Summit (The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference), vowing to reduce global carbon emissions to sustainable levels by employing actual concrete measures and via a coordinated world-wide effort. This in contrast to the previously failed attempts at an agreement.

8. Get Your Spacesuit ‘Cuz We’re Going Out

8 major events of 2015 - The SpaceX Falcon 9 Re-usable Rocket pictured here.

The “impossible” was made real on December 22 as the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was the first in mankind’s history to go to Earth orbit, then return and safely land on the planet, intact.

You see, when Elon Musk started SpaceX and said that his short term goal is to create a re-usable rocket, most scientists in the space industry and the public at large sneered, and were quick to show formulas and calculations “proving” that with Earth’s gravity as it is and the other factors to take into account, this couldn’t be done.

Not to mention the combined analyses and projections of savants from the world leading powers in the past decades, including the US and USSR, which all seemed to indicate such a result: it couldn’t be done.

And yet, it was done. Flawlessly. On December 22. So mark the day in your calendar and memories.

Because the medium-term goal stated by Musk some years past, when he announced his plans for a re-usable rocket, was to establish a permanent human colony on Mars. With long-term dreams of spreading into other solar systems, thus ensuring our continued survival and growth as a species.

Coupled with item 6 on this list, Musk’s Mars colony plans just took a decidedly upwards turn, wouldn’t you say?

So, in short, take heart. There are good things happening in the world amid all the chaos. Happy New Year in advance!

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.