New Discoveries in Space
2016 was a big year for space news! While there was one unfortunate blunder—the ExoMars mission sent a lander and an orbiter to Mars but unfortunately the lander crashed into the surface of the planet—a lot of missions last year went extremely well. Scientists are constantly discovering new things, and as we get more technologically advanced the discoveries will only keep piling up. So advanced, in fact, that we may get to one day live on other planets. So what exactly is new in space news?
In February of 2016, the first ever direct detection (or finding) of gravitational waves were discovered. What this means is that scientists have found ripples in space that stretch and flatten space itself. While these are invisible, they are extremely powerful and very, very cool. These ripples (or waves) carry information about objects and the events that created them. These waves came from black holes that were swirling and running into each other. Stay tuned for plenty more news about this finding in the coming years.
A new planet beside the nearest star to Earth’s sun
In August scientists found a planet orbiting the star Proxima Centauri. This star is the nearest star to Earth’s sun. Scientists have called this new planet Proxima b, and it has the mass of about 1.27 times Earth’s mass. What this means is that there is a very strong possibility that the planet could be habitable. In other words, it may be possible for organisms to live on Proxima b.
Ices deposit found on Mars
A very large ice deposit was found on Mars. It is about the size of New Mexico (which is huge!) and its volume is close to the same as Lake Superior’s volume. What that means is that humans would find the ice deposit extremely helpful for drinking water purposes if they ever settled on Mars. One step closer to a real life Star Wars situation…
Water plumes on Europa
The Hubble Space Telescope found what looks like plumes of water spewing from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. What this means is that there may be a portion of liquid water ocean deep below the surface of Europa. Wherever there is water there is the possibility of life. NASA may want to launch an orbiting mission to sample this water. They have plans to send an orbiting probe to study Europa in the near future.