Earth is an amazing place. It’s filled with different people, cultures, cities, towns and countries, and it’s home to millions of species of wildlife like algae. While Earth is largely a source of amazement, with new things being discovered on a regular basis, the planets, suns and stars encompassing it are equally as exciting. They too, are involved in major discoveries.
Therefore, it’s important to shine the spotlight on the many new discoveries that have been made in the last five years. So, what has been happening while we go about our daily lives here on Earth?
Proxima B was discovered
Approximately 4.2 light years from Earth’s sun lies a star called Proxima Centauri. While this star has been known to exist for many years, a planet surrounding that star has just been discovered. Aptly named Proxima B, it has a mass of around 1.27 times Earth’s mass, and there’s every possibility life exists on it.
From this discovery, a group called Project Blue began fundraising for a space telescope in order to study Proxima B in much finer detail. The ultimate goal is to look for signs of life.
From this fundraising effort, Breakthrough Foundation which is headed by people such as Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerberg, launched an initiative called Breakthrough Starshot. The goal is to now not only look for signs of life, but to send a spacecraft the size of a microchip to Proxima B for a better look.
Ice deposit discovered on Mars
There has always been a possibility that eventually Mars could be habitable, but a new discovery has made that more possible than ever. Last year, an ice deposit comparable in size to the size of New Mexico was discovered in the mid-northern latitudes of Mars. It sits approximately 3-33 feet below the surface, and is made up of 50-85 percent water. It’s similar in volume to Lake Superior, and could prove useful if humans decided to inhabit the red planet.
Juno visits Jupiter
While it hasn’t provided any major breakthroughs, the news that NASA’s spacecraft Juno made it to Jupiter last year was music to the ears of many. Settling into orbit, Juno now approaches Jupiter every 53 days, providing stunning pictures with every rotation.
Human colonies to be built on Mars
It’s an exciting yet scary thought – relocating to Mars. Imagine telling your friends and family you’re moving ‘out of state’, only to buy a one-way ticket to Mars instead? Ask Elon Musk!
That could soon be the reality. SpaceX plans to build human colonies on Mars, with a sample collection mission to take place first in 2020. In fact, they even intend on sending unmanned landers to the surface of Mars by as early as 2018!
Ice volcanoes discovered on planet Ceres
You’ve heard of volcanoes spouting lava, but have you heard of ice volcanos? You have now. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft discovered cryovolcanoes could exists at the bottom of many craters on the small planet of Ceres. These volcanoes may spout ice and mud instead of lava.
Earth is an amazing place, but with major discoveries still being made about the planets surrounding us, it seems like we’re only just scratching the surface!