As the year is coming to its end we must say that 2015 has been an amazing year for space exploration. There was no other period in the known history of mankind in which we made so many important discoveries as we did during this year.
For those who haven’t been watching the news, here is a recap:
2015 is the year when NASA found flowing water on Mars. This might be the greatest discovery ever made on another planet, especially since until now scientists believed that the Red Planet was an arid and dry place. Finding liquid water tells us that the planet might have had a history similar to our planet. Now astronomers are trying to find out what has happened to it and what triggered the changes which brought Mars to the state we see today.
After they found liquid water on the surface of the planet, NASA has issued a three-steps plan to bring humans on Mars. First the agency will carry research and test technologies aboard the International Space Station. Second, they will move to the lunar orbit where they will test human’s capacity of living in outer space, way beyond the Earth’s low orbit where the ISS is positioned. Finally, the third step will be to actually send manned missions on the orbit of the Red Planet. Then, NASA is hoping that they will be able to create habitats on Mars’ surface that could support life.
Besides the Red Planet NASA is looking for life in other parts of the universe or at least for places that could support life in case we ever decide to move our home from Earth. This year the Kepler Space Telescope has found Earth’s twin near a star that might be characterized like our Sun’s cousin. Unfortunately we won’t be visiting Earth’s sister during our lifetime since it is about 1400 light-years away. That’s a long way to travel for Christmas holidays but the next generations might be able to discover faster transportation that could take them there in the life time of only one generation.
The latest great discovery of the year was New Horizon’s photos of Pluto when if flew past it after travelling 4.8 billion kilometers in only nine years. From the images sent by New Horizon scientists have been able to spot an icy area covering some mountains on Pluto – the planet which is not considered a planet anymore.
All in all, 2015 has been an amazing year for space exploration and all the space enthusiasts hope for even more from the next one!
Image source: NASA