Humans have always looked to the sky with wondered about the mysteries of space.
From ancient civilizations’ myths about the stars to the advances made in modern day society, it’s one subject that can make us stand in awe at the sheer magnitude of space itself and the mysteries it still holds.
In recent years there has been major steps in understanding our solar system and beyond. Here are my top current and upcoming space events…
In 2013 N.A.S.A discovered that mars held enough water captured in layers of ice sheets and snow to cover the entire planet and evidence of an extinct ocean named oceanus boreallus that dried up millions of years ago.
Michael H Heck theorized that there could be flowing water on certain slopes on the Martian surface under the right conditions.
It would be different from the water on earth being a dense, sludgy and consisting mostly of hydrated perchlorate (salt). Water that has high quantities of salt has a lower freezing point of -70°c and could flow on the Martian surface.
In 2015 the Curiosity Rover discovered calcium perchlorate that can absorb moisture from the air and could contribute to the flowing water. We will have to wait a while for a closer look as the Curiosity Rover wasn’t sterilised enough before leaving earth and any earth microbes still present could contaminate mars.
Einstein’s Gravitational Waves Detected
Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1915 and one of the things it consisted of was gravitational waves. 100 years later, they were finally detected. Scientists used L.I.G.O (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory), two lasers devices in separate locations that both hit their targets at the same time down to the millisecond.
Using these lasers they detected that gravitational waves caused a difference in the lasers of 7.3 milliseconds. While this may not seen like a big difference it confirms Einsteins theory of binary black holes orbiting and crashing into each other .
The European space agency plans to launch a space gravitational wave detector to detect even smaller gravitational waves in a few years. This discovery well help scientists observe massive space events like black holes and supernova. GO EINSTEIN!
Jupiter’s Moon, Europa
Europa’s surface is 15 miles of ice, is a little smaller than our moon, has an iron core and orbits Jupiter. When Europa passes close to Jupiter the southern pole cracks and geysers 125 miles high, releasing 7.5 tons of water a second that can last seven hours.
This has scientists very excited because where ever there is water on earth, life exists in some form.
Because the geysers are so big and release so much, it makes a mission a lot more likely as no drilling would be needed to send a probe to collect a sample of the water before it falls back to Europa’s surface. While a mission is still a bit away it’s certainly something to look forward to.
The Ninth Planet
Pluto was supposedly our ninth planet as taught since childhood, but since the discovery of equal-sized celestial bodies in our solar system it was downgraded and lost its planetary status. But we may not be stuck with eight planets for long. While the ninth planet hasn’t been visually confirmed yet the California Institute of Technology are positive they have found the ninth planet.
In the early 1800s astronomers tracking the newly discovered Uranus found that it didn’t follow the orbit mathematical laws say it should. They then theorized that another massive planet must be effecting its orbit. They used Newtonian law to predict where this planet should be, roughly, and subsequently found Neptune.
In 1992 astronomers at the University of Hawaii discovered a small mass behind Pluto 2.8 billion miles away in the Kuiper belt. Objects moving at different speeds while maintaining the same orbit mean there would have to be an object at least 100 times the size of anything there to make this happen.
Using different arrangements in supercomputers they determined that the only thing capable of causing this would be a massive planet the size of Neptune and it would have a 10.000 to 20.000 earth year orbit. Astronomers are searching the skies for visual proof but we may need to wait until it gets closer to the sun before they can gather more evidence.
These are just some of my Space news favourites but there are certainly more out there. Check out this fantastic Carl Sagan video below…