Solar System Archives - Page 9 of 11 -
Talk about heavy metal! This shiny, lumpy rock spotted by NASA’s Curiosity rover is likely made mostly of iron—and came from outer space! It’s an iron meteorite, similar to ones found in years past by Curiosity’s forerunners Spirit and Opportunity, but is considerably larger than any of the ones the MER rovers came across… in fact, at 2 meters (6.5 feet) wide this may very well be the biggest meteorite ever discovered on Mars
The past two years have been a little confusing for NASA’s Voyager 1 space probe, as its status as an interstellar traveller has been considered, debated, officially confirmed and then debated some more. However, new data looks to confirm that the intrepid spacecraft is actually in interstellar space, and the mission scientists have our Sun to thank for it.
Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are known as the rocky planets, in contrast the Solar System’s gas giants-Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, writes Time. Yet Mercury doesn’t quite fit with the other rocky worlds, Erik Asphaug, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, said in a statement.
Earth may have once looked a little more like Mars: a planet with two moons. It’s not the first time the theory has been trotted out by Erik Asphaug, but it’s getting new life thanks to an upcoming conference about our natural satellite. Asphaug says the second moon would have been much tinier—about 1/30th the size of our moon. But after orbiting Earth for a few million years, it would have had quite the impact, literally, on its larger twin.
The oldest rocks ever discovered in our solar system have been dated back about 4.57 billion years, meaning Earth obviously finished forming later than that. However, determining exactly when that happened can be difficult. New research presented by French geochemists from the University of Lorraine has revealed xenon isotopes. These isotopes indicate that the Earth and Moon are 60 million years older than was previously believed.
Pluto has long been regarded as something of an anomaly in our solar system. Compared to neighbouring worlds, the dwarf planet has an extremely tilted orbit which sometimes brings it closer to the sun than Neptune. Now, astronomers in Spain believe it has yet another unusual feature – the world may be harbouring two supersized planet just out of reach of our telescopes.
While we all remember some facts about the solar system —that there are nine planets, for example (at least until scientists changed their minds) — there are many lesser -known tidbits that many people do not know. Listed below are 5 interesting things about our solar system, and the planets located within it.
Although it is the closest celestial body to us, the moon still harbors secrets aplenty. “Closest,” of course, is a relative term: The great gray and white orb in our sky never veers much nearer than 225,000 miles (362,000 kilometers), and getting there is no easy feat, especially in the case of manned missions. No human has left boot prints in the lunar regolith since 1972. So, the Moon is a mystery that is definitely worth a closer look.
Like its jovian sibling IO, Europa is experiencing many changes, but it’s devoid of fire. The satellite is only slightly smaller than our Moon, and water ice coats its surface. Deep down, though, it is not as cold as it looks: Europa is not frozen solid.
Titan — that smoggy, orangy moon circling Saturn — is of great interest to exobiologists because its chemistry could be good for life.
Moons in our solar system get little respect. The latest discoveries from planets like Mars and Saturn grab headlines. New comets invade the public consciousness. Meteors dazzle skygazers, and little Pluto attracts a fan club. Moons, in comparison, seem boring. The sheer number of these natural satellites in our solar system makes them overwhelming to study.
NASA scientists says that the largest moon in the solar system may harbor life in its inner oceans. Previously, scientists thought Ganymede only had one ocean between two ice layers, but data reveals that its structure is “ice and oceans stacked up in several layers like a club sandwich.”