As a planet, Venus, shrouded in thick clouds of carbon dioxide, doesn’t lend itself to visual observation. To lift the veil on Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor, spacecraft such as NASA’s Magellan probe use radar to penetrate Venus’ clouds.
With 4,826 confirmed planets and Kepler candidates and the discovery of a gas giant with a colossal system of 160 rings, it may seem like we know quite a bit about what is out there in the cosmos. However, the universe loves to confuse us, and—frankly—humanity has yet to come to grips with what is in our own solar system.
Researchers have determined that a primitive ocean on Mars may have once held more water than is currently found in Earth’s vast Arctic Ocean. This paints a very different picture from the dusty Red Planet that we know today, and raises questions about where all that water could have gone.
Not much is known about Earth’s “inner space” —its core — although scientists agree on one thing. Much of the core consists of iron. But just how much iron is there remains the subject of debate. Now, new research show that the asteroids that slammed into Earth and the moon more than 4 billion years ago were vaporised into a mist of iron.
For many years, mankind has wondered about the existence of life in worlds outside the Earth. It is possible though that alien life may indeed exist but not as we know it. In a new study published this week by researchers from Cornell University, the team of researchers has modeled a new methane-based life form that can metabolize and reproduce, similar to the oxygen-based life forms here on Earth.
Why should our solar system’s planets get all the attention? There are things about our own Moon that we either still don’t know or have just learned about, half a century after 12 human beings walked on it. Other moons may harbor life or contain evidence about incredibly violent events that have changed the very nature of the solar system. A few moons are just plain spectacular, like Charon. What’s Charon, you ask?
The latest images of Ceres, captured by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft as it comes ever closer to its rendezvous with the dwarf planet, are the sharpest yet obtained, scientists say. Taken as Dawn moves toward entering orbit around Ceres on March 6, the new and improved images have raised more questions about the dwarf planet and its surface than they have provided answers, say scientists.
Astronomers say a red dwarf star and its brown dwarf companion passed within 0.8 light-year of our own sun 70,000 years ago, moving through the comets in the outer reaches of the Oort Cloud that surrounds our solar system. In cosmic terms, that’s almost a close shave, astronomers say; our nearest neighbor star, Proxima Centauri, is a comfortable 4.2 light years away from us.
Think you know everything there is to know about the Sun? Think again. Here are some facts about the Sun, collected in no particular order. Some you might already know, and others will be totally new to you.
A short time-lapse “movie” was shot of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. The images were taken by Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which is closer to Pluto than any spacecraft has ever been.
Despite all the information we’ve discovered from our telescopes and outer space missions, there are still many puzzles to solve in our own solar system. Sometimes, it seems the more we learn, the more mysteries we uncover.