WASHINGTON, DC — Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates' grabbed the world's attention when Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a plan to establish a colony on Mars by 2117. Officials have been relatively mum about the details of the "Mars 2117 Project" — but yesterday, a person helping to lead the endeavour discussed how young Arab people will lead the mission.
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The Pluto-shaped void in our hearts has yet to be filled by Planet 9, copious amounts of Ben & Jerry's, or anything. Ever since the winter of 2015, when NASA's New Horizons performed a six-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons, fans of the dwarf planet have wondered if or when we'd ever go back. According to New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, he and some other planetary scientists are already drawing up the blueprint for a return trip — and this time, it'd be much more than just a flyby.
When we think of dwarf planets, the first thing that comes to mind is obviously the injustice of Pluto getting demoted to one. But the truth is, these little guys — and there are six currently recognised within our solar system — deserve just as much love as their mightier planetary cousins. Good news for them: a new study suggests that the dwarf planet club could get another member, in the form of a very small, distant object located roughly 92 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun.
Millennials have already lost so much: A relatively secure housing market, the hope of stable careers, and an Earth that wasn't completely littered with the mistakes of Baby Boomers. So when Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006, it was another nail in our fragile hearts. But that hasn't stopped astronomers of all ages debating about whether or not Pluto — and other objects in our solar system — are, in fact, planets. Pluto could be a planet, because the very word "planet" is a bit nebulous, even for experts.
Last month, the solar system lost its collective chill when NASA announced the discovery of a seven-planet system called TRAPPIST-1, just 39 light-years from our Sun. The system is particularly exciting, not only because of its proximity to our planet, but because it has three planets within the habitable zone, where liquid water (and potentially life) could be supported. There's already a website dedicated to these mysterious planets, filled with stunning art and literal fan fiction. In short, TRAPPIST-1 is already getting the One Direction treatment.
Video: This planet of ours, it ain't gonna last forever. And though who the heck knows what's going to happen to the world that far off into the future (or even after November 8), Life Noggin decided to conduct a little brain exercise about how we could convert a planet like Mars or Venus, or a moon like Europa, into a second Earth.
A stellar view of the night sky, including all of our celestial neighbours, is dependent on countless factors like light pollution, the weather, and even the time of year. But you can guarantee that all of the planets in our solar system are visible when you go stargazing with this planetary string light set created by ThinkGeek.
When astronomers confirmed the discovery of an Earth-sized world orbiting Proxima Centauri just 4.25 light years away, hopes were ignited that there may be more planetary real estate in our cosmic neighbourhood. To find out, a team of ex-NASA scientists is now seeking private funding to scour the Alpha Centauri system for habitable planets.
Video: If you want to feel small and get a sense for the awesomely overwhelming scale of the universe and all of its planets and stars and empty space, watch this star size comparison video. It starts with our Moon and then sizes up to planets in our solar system in a line up while also looping in other rocky planets and bright stars to show us how we compare (we don't).