10 Insane Space Stories You’ve Missed This Year

10 Insane Space Stories You’ve Missed This Year 10 What A Year In Space Can Do To Your Body Exploring space has always been one of the biggest dreams of many

But have you ever wondered what space can do to your body? NASA has the answer In April 2019, they published the results of an unprecedented study Why unprecedented? Because for the very first-time scientists had the opportunity of observing identical twins in space NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has spent nearly a year on the International Space Station from 2015 to 2016 Unlike other astronauts, Scott has an identical twin, Mark, who’s an astronaut too! So, while Scott was in space Mark was enjoying his time on Earth, and the researchers were able to monitor how two genetically identical bodies would react to different environments

As it turned out Scott experienced a number of changes that Mark did not Some of the changes occurred, for example at the chromosomal level, increasing cancer risk in Scott Other changes occurred in both the twins in gene behaviour But, according to experts, the number of changes in Scott's are particularly astonishing Especially in mitochondrial genes, which help the body produce energy

However, most of those changes went away when Scott came back 9 The Revelation Of A Cosmic Web You may think that space exploration's primary goal is to look into the future, finding survivable planets, and new galaxies However, let’s not forget how space exploration is fundamental for understanding our past too So, for example, we know that every galaxy in the universe is connected to each other through filaments of gas matter, which form the cosmic web

Each of these filaments is made of hydrogen left over from the Big Bang Therefore, studying the cosmic web can lead us to know more about the creation of the Universe The only problem? The web is too faint to be seen by a naked eye But all is not lost In October 2019, astronomers were able to photograph a piece of the cosmic web for the first time ever

They managed to use a quasar, an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus, to illuminate a nearby gas cloud – the filaments of dark matter ZThe image shows blue strands of hydrogen at 12 billion light-years away, connecting bright white galaxies in its path Such an image will help astronomers to better understand how the first galaxies in the universe formed 8 Massive Planets’ Collision Sounds like the perfect title for a movie but it actually happened for real, and not too far from us

In August 2019, it was revealed that a huge planet may have crashed into Jupiter about 45 billion years ago Juno, not the movie but NASA's Jupiter-orbiting spacecraft, has been collecting information about the planet's structure and composition since July 2016 Two years ago, it sent back some unexpected gravitational readings You see, due to its gas conformation, scientists expected Jupiter to have lightweight hydrogen and helium around the densest part of the core

But, surprise! Juno's data showed that there were actually heavy elements that diffuse through Jupiter's centre, in an area up to half of the planet's radius Astronomers at Rice University and China's Sun Yat-sen University estimated that Jupiter probably absorbed a young planet with 10 times the mass of Earth after a head-on impact This would explain why Jupiter's core is less dense and more diffused than scientists expected 7 A New Model of Physics? Wait

what do you mean? I still can’t figure out the old physics and now you’re telling me there’s a new one? – I know guys, and I feel you But try to hear me out Now, we all know the universe keeps expanding, getting bigger and stretching galaxies farther apart

We learned it in school And if you didn’twell, now you know

Anyway, scientists have recently discovered that the contemporary universe it's expanding much faster than we thought – To be precise, it is actually expanding 9% faster than calculations based on radiation from the Big Bang would predict And this can mean that the standard model of the universe doesn’t work anymore And so, 2019 closed with a new theory Experts think these mismatched measurements show that something is missing from their model of the universe

Hard to tell what exactly is missing at this stage According to astrophysicist Sherry Suyu "It could be exotic dark energy, or a new relativistic particle, or some other new physics yet to be discovered" 6 Black Hole Babies Haven’t you always been wondering “Do black holes have babies? And are they cute?” Haven’t you? Oh, wellI’ll tell you anyway and – spoiler alert – it’s not what you’re imagining First of all, it’s worth remembering what a black hole is A definition from NASA describes it as an extremely dense object from which no light can escape The black hole's gravity pulls in its surroundings

And so, black holes’ reputation is that of destroyers of everything However, a discovery made in March 2019, has proved this is not always the case The researchers came across a supermassive black hole located in the centre of a galaxy, about 99 billion light-years from Earth This same galaxy has at least seven neighbouring galaxies, which, according to the astronomers, were around as few as 800 million years after the Big Bang, making them some of the earliest objects ever detected

But that's not all The discovery shows a less common example of “positive feedback,” where the black hole’s effects INCREASE star formation Which made the black hole the good guy, for once, and the stars its babies 5 Following Fast Radio Bursts Home So, Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, appear as intensely bright, brief pulses of radio energy that constantly flash across the universe like invisible bullets

Scientists are not so sure of what they are, so don’t feel bad if you don’t quite catch it However, last June – oh my gosh! I just realised, already ONE YEAR AGO – a team of researchers tried to solve the mystery They managed to track an FRB across space and time and followed it to its precise origins for the first time It was all possible thanks to the Australian radio telescope array Researchers discovered that the burst had originated from a Milky Way-size galaxy about 3

6 billion light-years from Earth, which was no longer producing new stars According to experts, these results suggest that FRBs can form in a variety of cosmic environments and that life in Outer space is possible 4 Another Earth? When scientists don’t follow mysterious radio bursts home, they carry our ancestral dream of finding new livable planets to occupy And so, on the 7th January 2020, the scientific community announced they had found the presence of water vapour in the atmosphere of an Earth-sized planet

Can this mean life on that planet is possible? Maybe, but there are a few facts to keep in mind First of all, the planet – named TOI 700 d – is located 100 light-years away from us, in the southern constellation Dorado The planet revolves around a nearby star – TOI 700 – a red dwarf about 40% the mass and size of our sun and roughly has its temperature Together with TOI 700 d, there are two other planets revolving around the star: TOI 700 b and TOI 700 c But what makes TOI 700 d so special – apart from the presence of water in its atmosphere – is the fact the planet resides in the so-called habitable zone

This isn’t the first time scientists came across an Earth-like planet, but this time, we may be close to a breakthrough 3 Alien Life Is Possible It is not enough to acknowledge the possibility of life out there We must keep finding traces of it and think out of the box

So, for example, last October, NASA made clear that it’s not only Earth-like planets that can host life A team of researchers found organic compounds in the ocean of Saturn's moon Enceladus Okay, so? So, these compounds carry nitrogen and oxygen, two chemical elements that play a key role in producing amino acids, complex molecules that serve as the building blocks of proteins – oh gosh, you’re gonna hate me for bringing up all these high school memories – Anyway, without proteins, even life as we know it, here on Earth, couldn't exist

So, you see where I’m going, don’t you? Scientists have been focusing on Enceladus for years They’ve always suspected its surface could hide components for life But last year, for the first time, researchers had detected organic molecules dissolved in the water Meaning the compounds could undergo deep-sea chemical reactions that produce amino acids 2

China Landed On The Far Side Of The Moon On January 3 2019, China landed on the moon I know, said like this, it seems nothing special, especially if we compare the news to the previous events listed here And even so, we’ve landed on the moon already, duh? Obviously, that’s not all that we have and I tell you why this event deserves the right attention First of all, it’s worth remembering that due to Earth's gravitational tug, that has forced the moon's rotation to speed to sync up with its orbit, the moon rotates both on its axis and around the Earth once every 28 days That means we always see the same side of the moon, and we can't see the far side of it

Anyway, when, last year, China's Change 4 moon lander reached the “dark side” of the moon it changed history because we could finally know what hides in the unexplored side of the planet – spoiler alert, it’s pretty much the same as the other side Still, China made it where no one else could before, due to the difficulties in maintaining communication with Earth, because the moon itself blocks radio contact 1 The Failure Of The Virgin Orbit Now, let’s end this 10s with the most recent story of them all

You may have missed it, partly because we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, partly because of the equally important Black Lives Matter, and partly because Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s launch total success has outshined it We’re talking about the first launch demonstration of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit LauncherOne Just a few days before the launch of SpaceX changed the history of spacecraft, there was another attempt Unfortunately for Branson, it didn’t end as planned – We’ll get there in a sec

So, the company's aim was to place small satellites into space using LauncherOne, carried in its turn under the wing of a converted 747 jumbo-jet aircraft In the morning of May 25th, the flight took off from Mojave Air and Space Port, California The jet flew to an altitude of around 35,000ft, circa 10,700m, at which point lifted the nose to begin its steep climb to drop the rocket However, a few seconds after the drop, the rocket shut down due to a malfunction And so the LauncherOne plummeted to Earth and crashed in the Pacific Ocean

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