We all grew up watching movies about outer space like E.T., Star Wars, or Apollo 13. Although some movies (cough cough…Aliens) made us sweat with visions of endless expanses of nothingness, places where no one could hear you scream, or unknown lifeforms ripping out of your chest – for the most part, space was a captivating place filled with undiscovered possibilities and unknown opportunities.
NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, works tirelessly to discover the undiscoverable, create the unthinkable, and travel the unknown. Everyone – at one point in their life –wanted to be an astronaut and travel the starry galaxy. So, become an astronaut for a day and revisit the five most exciting NASA moments from 2017.
1) Viking Burial: Cassini Heads to Saturn for One Final Journey
In a planned collision coarse for Saturn, the spacecraft, Cassini, ended an almost 20-year career discovering Saturn’s secrets. With the unique data recorded during Cassini’s lengthy mission researching Saturn’s moons, rings, and atmosphere, we were given a glimpse into an otherwise unknown planet. In its final orbit, Cassini soared into the planet – sending photos and data back to NASA the entire time – before exploding in a fiery end akin to a Viking burial.
2) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Solar System: Alien Rock
The NASA telescope, aptly named Pan-STARRS1, discovered an alien object traveling through our solar system. Although it wasn’t an adorable alien like E.T. or Wall-E, the long rock is unlike any other comet or asteroid that has traveled our system before and it is a pretty exciting discovery. Plus, it was named Oumuamua, which is one awesome name. Get a head start on trying to pronounce it correctly, just in case it ends up being a talking rock alien that we have to converse with. Oumamamamma? Omooomoo? We’ll figure it out…
3) Peggy Whitson # Winning
NASA astronaut, Peggy Whitson, set a record for her 665 days in space, as the first U.S. astronaut with most time spent in space. Plus, she has a record for the most spacewalks at a whopping 10! Not sure what a “spacewalk” exactly entails, but we’ve never even done 1, let alone 10, so she is definitely winning at life.
4) Home Sweet Home?
The earth-like planet, LHS 1140b, was discovered 40 light years away; the dense rocky planet, although not exactly earth-like in its beauty, has the potential for water and temperate conditions. We aren’t recommending you pack your suitcases just yet, but the planet is possibly the most livable planet, other than Earth, out there. It doesn’t look like a walk in the park though, so we’ll stick with Earth for now.
5) Water, Water, Everywhere (Even the Moon)!
The Moon may have more water hidden within the core than initially known; researchers speculate that the pyroclastic deposits – or volcanic glass – on the moon may contain water. If so, the future may hold visits to the moon to refill our water bottles!
NASA’s 2017 discoveries are a glimpse into what the future holds for us! We may be stuck on our little blue dot, but NASA is around to show us what is waiting for us just beyond our atmosphere.