Animals will certainly join humans on our quest to colonize the planets and moons of our solar system. However, animals have not flown on space missions in quite a while, as space agencies are hesitant to bring them on involuntary journeys. The only cat to have ever flown in space, Félicette, is now being honored for her 1963 journey, with a new statue due to be erected in Paris.Read More In Space, No One Can Hear You Meow – A Sad Tale (Tail?) of the First Cat in Space
A newly discovered super-Earth, Barnard b, may be capable of supporting alien life, researchers at Villanova University report. This world is roughly three times larger than the Earth, and experiences frigid temperatures. However, if it is a rocky world with a molten core, like Earth and Venus, this could provide enough heat to create oceans of liquid water that could support life. Astronomers are still uncertain if Bernard b has a solid surface, or if it is a gaseous world, similar to Uranus and Neptune. The next generation of telescopes may be able to make that determination, and possibly detect life if it exists on that alien world.Read More Could Alien Life Exist on Barnard b? It’s Possible!
A strange exoplanet sitting 53 light years from Earth has been discovered by astronomers using the TESS spacecraft. This world is three times larger than the Earth, but 23 times as dense. This suggests it is likely surrounded by a thick atmosphere, denser than that seen on Uranus or Neptune. The planet, HD 2172b, speeds around its parent star once every 36 days. This is the third confirmed planet found by TESS, although astronomers are looking through data showing more than 280 other potential worlds.Read More Weird Exoplanet Discovered by TESS Spacecraft – Strange World, Indeed!
The New Horizons spacecraft made a close encounter with Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day, making this the most distant body ever visited by a robotic explorer. The color images returned by the vehicle show the object resembles a red-colored snowman 31 kilometers (19 miles) in length. Exploration of Ultima Thule could help astronomers answer mysteries about comets and the formation of the Solar System. New Horizons made history in 2015, when it became the first spacecraft to visit Pluto.Read More A Giant Red Snowman in Space? New Horizons Returns First Color Images of Ultima Thule
The rings of Saturn are disappearing, new research has determined. Particles of rock and ice which make up this magnificent system of rings are falling into the atmosphere of the planet, draining the system of material. Astronomers estimate the rings will be completely gone in just 100 million years, so see them before they disappear forever!Read More Saturn is Losing its Rings – See them Before They’re Gone!
Astronomers have found the most distant dwarf planet in our Solar System yet discovered. Known as VG18, this distant world is being called Farout by astronomers, due to it great distance from the Sun, roughly 120 times further away from our parent star as the Earth. Observations reveal this body, roughly 500 kilometers (or 300 miles) in diameter, has a pink surface, suggesting the world is covered in ice. Astronomers in Hawaii discovered the world while searching for a ninth planet, which some astronomers believe waits to be found in the far reaches of the Solar System.Read More Farout! Most Distant Dwarf Planet in Solar System Found – and it’s Pink!
The InSight Mars lander touched down on the surface of the Red Planet on Monday, November 23rd. This is the eight successful landing on Mars for NASA and the American space program. InSight lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 8th of this year. The lander is designed to study the interior of Mars, in an effort to learn more about all the rocky planets of our solar system, including Earth. Researchers hope the solar-powered spacecraft lasts at least one Martian year, or roughly two Earth years.Read More InSight Lander Touches Down on Mars to Explore the Red Planet
A new exoplanet orbiting Bernard’s Star, just six light years from Earth, has been detected by astronomers. This frozen world orbits the cool red dwarf star at about the same distance as that which separates the Sun and Mercury. Life is unlikely to be found on the frigid surface, but the techniques used to discovery this world could allow astronomers to find a treasure trove of other worlds orbiting alien stars.Read More Howdy Neighbor! Frozen Super-Earth Discovered Orbiting Bernard’s Star
Astronomers have discovered a previously-unknown dwarf planet, nicknamed Goblin, orbiting beyond the orbit of Neptune. This tiny world takes 40,000 years to travel once around the Sun, and it never comes closer than 65 times the distance between the Earth and our parent star. Computer simulations show the orbit of this world may be influenced by a distant, larger body astronomers are dubbing Planet X.Read More Goblin the Dwarf Planet Discovered at the Edge of the Solar System
Astronomers from the University of Florida announced they have found a new exoplanet much like the planet Vulcan from Star Trek. Strangely enough, the actual planet was found almost exactly where the science-fiction series placed it decades ago. The planet orbits the star 40 Eridani A, just over 16 light years from Earth. The discovery was made using a 50-inch telescope on Mount Lemmon, near Tucson, Arizona.Read More Astronomers Find Mr. Spock’s Home World of Vulcan from Star Trek