From capturing high resolution photos of Pluto to uncovering the mysterious light emanating from dwarf planet Ceres, this summer has been an exciting one for astronomers and space enthusiasts alike. Unfortunately the news doesn’t always cover space exploration, so I’ve taken the liberty to put together the most interesting space missions that have been going on this summer.
1. The Kepler Space Telescope
This telescope finds exoplanets by detecting the slight dimming of light from a planet orbiting in front of it’s host star. Recently, the Kepler telescope viewed ‘Kepler-452b’, a planet roughly 5 times the mass of Earth and is considered “Earth’s older cousin”. This recent discovery, among many others, has made exoplanet colonization a hotly discussed topic. Regardless of our current technological limits, if humanity were to visit an earth-like planet, which one would it be? A website called Futurism put together the top 8 exoplanets that could host alien life.
2. The Dawn Mission
The Dawn Mission is a probe sent to study the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres located within the asteroid belt. Upon the arrival of Ceres, photos captured a mysterious bright light emanating from it’s surface. There are multiple theories as to what this bright spot is. Some scientists believe it’s a cryogenic volcano or just a patch of minerals that are reflecting the sun’s light. What do you think?
3. The New Horizons Mission
For the first time in human history we have high quality photos of the former planet Pluto. These pictures have provided us an idea of Pluto’s atmosphere, composition, and geography. The landscape’s heart-shaped mark went viral the following week with comical photoshopped images.
These discoveries are amazing and yet U.S. Congress believes it’s not a priority to seek out the stars. Recently Nasa had it’s funding cut (once again) and now must resort to renting Russian rockets to send astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Hopefully Congress gets its act together soon and realizes the benefits of space exploration outweigh the price tag.