The days of breaking out the popcorn and making a night of watching a space shuttle take off seem to be over. While you might not hear about the latest and greatest in the galaxy far, far away, developments are constantly happening.

In fact, the discoveries of the past decade are incredible. Some of these will revolutionize life here on Earth, but also open the door to future expansions in other galaxies.

If you think the world of outer space is nothing more than a house full of gases, stars, and mysterious planets, you might be surprised at what scientists have discovered. 

The Future of Space Exploration

space discoveries

Even though the media’s attention span has lessened over the years for space travel, NASA is still moving strong. 

Space Shuttles are active, and the United States works jointly with other countries to explore the worlds beyond Earth. More so, NASA is no longer the sole source for exploration and
discovery. There are partnerships, scientific research groups, and private organizations also looking to see what else is out there to find.

From 2014 to 2017, NASA made extraordinary discoveries, including everything from landing on a comet to locating new stars to finding more habitable zoned planets.

10 Jaw-Dropping Space Discoveries to
Note

What NASA finds in space is not something you pop in the history books and forget. Instead, these space discoveries could revolutionize the future of where humans live and the possibilities of life on other planets.

Here are ten exciting discoveries made that you most likely didn’t know about: 

1. Proxima b – a Planet that Could be Habitable

Proxima b

One exciting development in 2016 was Proxima b, which is found 4.2 light years from Earth’s sun. Proxima Centauri, a star, has a habitable zone where liquid water might exist, and Proxima b is a planet within that zone.

This discovery sparked the development of the Breakthrough Foundation and Project Blue – a fundraising project designed to build a space telescope ready to study and explore the possibility of life on Proxima b.

In 2017, scientists did state that they believe the planet is barren and possibly scorched after
seeing the small mass suffer an eruption that was ten times larger than the Sun’s biggest outburst. Proxima b is estimated at 4.85 billion years old too, which means those years of absorbing the heat and hits most likely removed any water and the planet is ripe with radiation.

However, no one has been able to study the planet up close to confirm. 

2. Saturn Rivals the Grand Canyon

space discoveries

Saturn’s largest moon, known as Titan, has canyons flooded with liquid hydrocarbons.

Data from the Cassini Spacecraft found that the dark channels sprawling over the moon out of the Titan Ligeia Mar Sea were filled with liquid.

Unlike Earth, Titan is cold, icy and the rivers are filled with inhabitable liquids – not to mention rivers full of methane throughout its surface. However, it is still interesting that Titan holds features similar to what you could find here on Earth.

3. More Earth-Sized Planets Ready for Exploration

earth-sized

On February 22, 2017, NASA stated that their Spritzer Space telescope found seven planets (all similar size to Earth) orbiting a star.
Three of the planets observed were in a habitable zone, and scientists state water could be on them.

Known as the Trappist-1 planets this finding is a new record for the number of habitable zone planets discovered. Trappist-1 planets are approximately 40 million light years from Earth, and NASA plans to explore them more in 2019 – if they can get there.

4. Mars was Almost the Victim of a Comet Impact

Mars was Almost the Victim of a Comet Impact

The closest scientists have ever seen a comet reach a planet without crashing was the Siding Spring comet that blew past Mars and was a mere 87,000 miles from the surface in 2014.

The comet’s debris trail left behind a few pieces in the Martian atmosphere, which sparked a meteor shower. 

5. A New Giant Ring of Black Holes

giant ring of black holes

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory found a giant ring of black holes just 300 million light years away, which now offers clues about what happens when galaxies collide.

The ring of black holes was suspected to be the result of two galaxies meeting, and the galaxies likely drew together from gravity. The ripples, according to Live Science, would cause the gases to expand or clump into denser areas, which then triggers new star births. 

6. The Moon Has Frozen Reserves

moon has frozen reserves

The days of landing on the moon were just the beginning. While you might not hear much about it today, NASA is still heavily researching the Moon.

In fact, in August 2018, they found evidence of frozen water on the darkest and coldest parts of the Moon. Previous research had hinted that ice reserves existed, but now
scientists have proof.

Most of the ice resides in surface craters never touched by sunlight, and the temperatures average minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit; therefore, they are unlikely to return to their liquid form any time soon. 

7. Huge Glaciers Exist Under Mars’ Surface

mars surface

At the beginning of 2018, NASA found deposits of ice below the surface of some regions in Mars. These sheets of frozen water are distinctly layered, and scientists feel that researching these sheets might provide them with insight about the planet’s history.

The existence of water is not a new discovery, but the ice below does tell scientists more about the Red Planet.

8. Fossil-Like Structures on Mars

Fossil-Like Structures on Mars

Another exciting find on Mars at the start of 2018 was the tube-like structures with a remarkable resemblance to fossils.

Curiosity Rover found them initially, and some scientists speculate whether they are trace fossils or just unusual ground formations. Some state that they are similar to Ordovician trace fossils, which you find on Earth.

The only question now is whether they are geological or biological, and that might take some time to figure out.

9. Super Earth Does Exist

Super Earth

The exoplanet, known as “super earth” to many is 1.4 times the size of Earth, but seven times Earth’s mass. It features a rocky surface and orbits a quiet star.

The discovery excited many in the hunt for extraterrestrial life.  Super Earth’s official name is LHS 1140b, and it orbits a red dwarf star approximately 40 light years from Earth. While it is technically “close” to Earth compared to other planets out there, NASA will have to study it without actually going there.

NASA will study to see if an atmosphere exists on Super Earth, but they suspect that it does because of the mass and temperature it exhibits. NASA does not believe that the new exoplanet emits high radiation like past superplanets, and sometime this year the Hubble
Space Telescope will make its way over there for further exploration.

If signs of life are found, a probe might be sent to explore further what the planet has to offer. The only catch is sending human life to this planet. After all, the furthest NASA has ever sent a human in the Moon, which is one light second away, and right now NASA does not have the technology even to send a probe to the planet. 

10. First Foreign Body of Outer Space

First Foreign Body of Outer Space

You might have heard about Oumuamua; the first body spotted outside our solar system that some believed was a spacecraft from another galaxy.

In reality, the spacecraft-like object was deemed nothing more than a mysterious object unlikely to contain life. The object was initially named A/2017 UI when it was spotted October 18, 2017 moving away from Earth.

Most scientists agree that Oumuamua is a structure adrift in the galaxy, and it is not moving with any purpose – instead, aimlessly floating wherever it goes. That being said, they still plan to observe the object and track its movement.

More Existing Space Discoveries Sure to Come

The past few years have seen an explosion of exciting findings – even from the Moon where you would assume there is nothing left to find.

Right now, NASA’s to do list is extensive. They plan to add more to their robotic fleet on Mars so that they can study the interior. They also want to send humans further into the solar system, including developing a rocket that will take humans into deep space.

Big plans for the International Space Station are underway too, including improving communications and experiences for those living on the spacecraft.

By no means is the future bland when it comes to space travel and exploration. 2019 is likely to see even more exciting discoveries as NASA’s plans are carried out.

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