To infinity and beyond
We are right in the midst of World Space Week, a seven-day celebration from 4 -10 October, which recognises the many contributions of space science and technology to our lives. This year's focus is on 'Discovery', a fitting theme for we have never before learnt as much about our Universe as we have in the last decade.
We are in an exciting era, where technological advances are allowing us to go even further in our space exploration, and uncover wonders we have never been seen, or thought possible.
To mark World Space Week, we have taken a look back at some of the recent highlights in our quest into the unknown:
- In July 2015, NASA announced the discovery of a new exoplanet*, Kepler 452-b. Described as 'Earth's closest twin', it is the first rocky, terrestrial planet that has been discovered in the habitable zone of a star just like our Sun. This could mean that there are other planets out there capable of sustaining life similar to our own.
- Just last month, (September) liquid water was discovered on Mars. We have known for the last few years that water exists on Mars in a frozen state, but this discovery of water in its liquid form brings us one step closer to unearthing if there really is any life on Mars?
- In 2005, Eris was discovered and started a debate on whether it constituted as a planet. It was later given the classification of a 'dwarf planet', and led to Pluto's demotion from planet status to a 'dwarf planet' in 2006.
- In 2014 we discovered the oldest star in space, which is around 13.6 billion years old, making it only a few hundred million years younger than the Universe itself.
- Discovered in February 2013, Kepler-37b is the smallest planet to be found in Space. This tiny, fiery planet is slightly larger than the Moon and has an average temperature of a sizzling 425C.
- Since the 2009 launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we have gained so much valuable data about the Moon. We now know that there is water on the Moon locked away in ice and rocks, and that the dark side of the Moon gets just as much light as the surface we can see from Earth.
- New research released in February 2014 revealed for the first time what the inside of an asteroid looks like. This new-found knowledge of their varying densities can help us protect ourselves from future collisions
*A planet that orbits a star, other than the Sun.