Can China Build a Moon Colony in 10 Years?

Zhang Kejian, leader of the China National Space Administration, announced his country plans to build a colony on the Moon within a decade. The structure will be constructed using a 3D printer, and would be home to human space travelers, visiting on a long-term basis. China recently became the first nation to ever land a probe safely on the far side of the Moon. NASA hopes to place people on the Moon in 2024, for the first time in more than 50 years.

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Are you Trying to Suggest that Jupiter Migrates?

Jupiter likely formed in the outer reaches of the Solar System, and migrated inward to its current position billions of years ago, according to new computer simulations from Lund University in Sweden. Two groups of asteroids, called Trojans, follow the giant planet in its journey around the Sun. The distribution of these bodies can only be explained if Jupiter was once four times more distant from the Sun than it is today, researchers discovered. In 2021, NASA will launch the Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids, in order to learn more about the ancient Solar System.

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OSIRIS-REx Reveals Secrets of Bennu — The Doomed Asteroid

The spacecraft OSIRIS-REx has reveled a wealth of new information about Bennu, a large, ancient asteroid. On March 19th, researchers released a wide range of scientific papers, providing a new look at this diamond-shaped body. New data shows Bennu is covered in massive boulders, which could hinder the spacecraft from gathering materials from the surface. Researchers have also spotted evidence water once existed on the body from which Bennu broke free. Gravity on the asteroid was also found to act in a strange manner, causing anything just outside its equator to be pulled toward the center of the asteroid, and shot into space.

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New Images of Mars from the ExoMars Orbiter Features Photo of InSight Lander Seen from Space

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has taken a wealth of new photographs of the Martian surface, including one showing the InSight lander, which recently touched down on the Red Planet. The images show the great geological diversity of Mars, as well as dunes and evidence of dust devils on the planet. Researchers hope to utilize these photographs during planning for future robotic missions.

Read More New Images of Mars from the ExoMars Orbiter Features Photo of InSight Lander Seen from Space

What a Dusty Solar System We Have! Here’s What Astronomers Found Hiding in the Mess

For several years, astronomers have known that rings of dust follow the planets Earth and Venus in their journeys around the Sun. Researchers have now found a similar ring of dust also accompanies Mercury in its orbit, much to the surprise of astronomers, who believed any system like this would be driven away by the Sun. Our own ring is produced by collisions between bodies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but computer simulations have shown the ring bonded with Venus is likely the result of a previously-unknown asteroid belt around the orbit of that planet.

Read More What a Dusty Solar System We Have! Here’s What Astronomers Found Hiding in the Mess

Massive Binary Stars Found Cuddling Together in Stellar Nursery

Astronomers at The University of Leeds have found a pair of massive binary stars orbiting closer to each other than any system ever seen before. The star PDS 27, once thought to be a single star, was found to be just one member of a binary pair. The two stars orbit each other at a distance roughly equal to that between the Sun and Neptune. Roughly one-third of all stars in our galaxy are in systems containing two or more stars.

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Water Seen Hopping Around the Surface of the Moon

The Moon was once thought to be a barren place, devoid of all water. But, in the last few years, several spacecraft have found water ice hidden within craters on our planetary companion. Now, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has found evidence that molecules of water are bouncing around the lunar surface. As ice is heated in one area, it moves to another nearby place, where it falls into shadow, and freezes once more on the surface of the Moon. Water will be a vital resource as humans populate the Solar System, and the Moon may be the first stopping-off point on the way to the planets.

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The Big Mystery of the Kuiper Belt — a Lack of Small Objects

The Kuiper Belt contains few small bodies, according to a new report from the Southwest Research Institute. This collection of rocks and ice surrounds our planetary system like a massive doughnut, larger than the orbit of Neptune. Photographs taken of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, show few craters, suggesting that the Kuiper Belt, in which Pluto resides, contains few small objects, less than a mile in diameter. Researchers are uncertain why the grouping contains so few small bodies.

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The Reasons We May Soon Find Planet Nine

Since 2016, astronomers have been searching for a ninth planet some researchers believe may be hiding at the edge of our family of planets. The orbits of some trans-Neptunian objects, or TNO’s, suggest that another planet is waiting out there to be discovered. Astronomers at the University of Michigan recently released a study suggesting that such a world will likely be found, or ruled out, in the next 10 to 15 years, as new observatories come online. Pluto was once considered to be the ninth planet, by was re-designated as a dwarf planet in 2006.

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Water, Water Everywhere — On Mars?

The Mars Express orbiter has taken photos of river valleys on the Red Planet, showing evidence that liquid water once flowed across the Martian landscape. Once thought to be completely dry, Mars is now known to have water ice beneath its surface, up to 100 meters, or 330 feet, in depth. Billions of years ago, Mars lost most of its atmosphere, and water on its surface disappeared. Astronomers are still uncertain what caused this dramatic climatic change on the Red Planet.

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