March 29, 2023

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7 mysteries in the solar system that scientists haven't solved yet

7 mysteries in the solar system that scientists haven’t solved yet

Next time you look at a bright full moon, think about this: No one knows exactly where the moon came from.

“We have no idea why the moon is here,” says science writer Rebecca Boyle. inexplicable Vox podcast explores great mysteries, unanswered questions and all things we Learn by diving into the unknown. “I think a lot of people [the moon] It’s obviously boring stuff like this, and galaxies, nebulae, stars and planets are much more interesting.”

It’s true that some of the epic questions in science exist in the furthest reaches of space – how and when the first galaxies formed, what happens inside a black hole – but also epic questions are here in our celestial neighbourhood. , in our area. own solar system.

Exploring our solar system – the moons and planets in it – is a better understanding of what is possible in the farthest reaches of the universe. Everything we find or discover in the cosmic backyard will help us understand what is possible in the larger universe. If evidence of ancient life is found in a hostile world like Mars, we may be able to better understand what normal life was like in other solar systems. If we understand how a world that may have been as vibrant as Venus declines, we might understand how often similar planets die around other stars at the end of the world.

The most intriguing mysteries of the solar system help us understand why we are here, how long we might have, and what we might leave behind. Here are some of the mysteries of the solar system that we encountered inexplicable

Listen and follow more puzzles inexplicable Wherever you are listening to podcasts

What killed Venus?

The clouds of Venus were captured in 1974 by NASA’s Mariner 10 spacecraft.

“Hellscape” is the most appropriate word to describe the surface of Venus, the second planet from the Sun. At 900 degrees Fahrenheit, it is the hottest planet in the solar system, thanks to an atmosphere made up almost entirely of carbon dioxide, generating a powerful greenhouse effect. Very corrosive sulfuric acid clouds are covered by a volcanic region of very sharp igneous rocks. The pressure on Venus’ surface is about 92 times what you feel at sea level on Earth.

However, some scientists suspect that Venus was once Earth-like, with a liquid water ocean like the one that supports life on our planet. This raises an existential question about life on Earth.

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Robin George Andrews, volcanologist and author of “Venus and Earth are Planetary Brothers” Giant volcanoes: What they reveal about Earth and the worlds beyond† “It is made and made of the same things at the same time, but the flower is dreadful and terrifying in every respect. The earth is a paradise. So why do we have a paradise beside the lost paradise?”

There are two main hypotheses. One is that the sun was boiling Venus to death. The other is that volcanoes have done it.

In-depth reading: The flower could have been heaven, but it turned into hell. Earthlings, watch out.

Where did the moon come from?

This view from the Apollo 11 spacecraft shows Earth’s height above the moon’s horizon.
HUM Images / Global Image Collection

Before the moon went down, scientists thought they knew how the moon formed. The prevailing theory was that they look a lot like planets: bits of material left over from the Sun’s formation clump together. But then Apollo astronauts brought back samples from the lunar surface, and those rocks told an entirely different story.

“Geologists have discovered that the moon is covered with a special type of rock called anorthosite,” inexplicable Principal producer Meredith Hodino explains during the show. “Bright, clear and reflective, this is the rock that makes the moon shine white in the night sky. At the time, it was believed that this rock could only be formed in a very specific way. Magma.”

But the magma meant that the moon must have formed in some kind of epic catastrophe. “Something pumped so much energy into the moon that it literally melted,” Hoddinott says. Scientists aren’t quite sure how all this happened. But each scenario is a cinematic story of extremely frightening proportions.

In-depth reading: How the Apollo moonstones reveal the epic history of the universe

Is there anything alive in human waste on the moon?

An astronaut’s litter box was left on the Moon in 1969.

During the Apollo missions on the moon, astronauts went to the moon and dumped their trash behind them to save weight when they returned to Earth. Astronauts left on all Apollo missions 96 bags of human waste on the surface of the moon, and they ask a fascinating astronomer-biological question.

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Human faeces – especially faeces – are teeming with microbial life. With the Apollo moon landing, we brought microbial life on Earth to the most extreme environment it’s ever been in. Which means litter on the moon is a normal, if unintended, experience.

The question that experience can answer: How resilient is life in the face of the monstrous environment of the moon? In this regard, if microbes can survive on the moon, can they survive between planets or? interstellar travel† If they manage to survive, life might spread from planet to planet, or ride the backs of asteroids or other space debris.

In-depth reading: Apollo astronauts left their tubes on the moon. We need to get back to this nonsense.

Was there an advanced civilization on Earth before humans?

Illustration of the Gondwana supercontinent, a land mass that formed completely about 550 million years ago and began to disintegrate about 180 million years ago.
Science Photo Libra / Getty Images

Many scientists have always wondered: Is there intelligent life in the depths of space? But climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and astrophysicist Adam Frank have another question: Was there intelligent life deep in Earth’s history? Can we find evidence of an advanced non-human civilization that may have lived hundreds of millions of years ago, buried in the Earth’s crust?

This is not strictly a “solar system” mystery, but it is on a cosmic scale. Schmidt and Frank essentially ask: How likely is it that an intelligent form of life on any planet – here or in the depths of space – would leave a mark, a mark of their existence? And in this regard, will some space explorers who have landed on Earth over hundreds of millions of years be able to find human footprints if we go far or far?

In-depth reading: Silurian hypothesis: Can an industrial civilization be detected in the geological record?

Can we push an asteroid off its collision course with Earth?

What if?
Tobias Roach/Future Publishing/Getty Images

Many disasters – volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes – are inevitable. Scientists are talking about when, not whether they will strike. Although people Makes some setbacks worseNatural disasters happened long before we got here. It is a fact of life on Earth. But one type of disaster should not be inevitable: a clash between asteroid or comet and earth

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The problem is that we’ve never tried to deduce an asteroid, and we don’t know if a plan to do so will work.

To help answer this question, NASA launched a program last year Double Asteroid Redirect Test (Dart), a box the size of a car with solar panels. It is currently on its way to a 160-meter-high asteroid called Demorphos. In the fall, DART Dimorphos will impact at 24,000 kilometers per hour (about 15,000 miles per hour) in pursuit of a big question: Could the collision push the asteroid into a slightly different orbit?

In-depth reading: The quest to avoid an asteroid disaster is going surprisingly well

Was there life on Mars?

The Persevering Rover takes a selfie on Mars.
NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

Mars today is a desert, devoid of any visible sign of life. But over the years, scientists have discovered evidence of the loss of Mars, long ago, that may have been a lot like Earth.

“Mars is a very different place today than it was 4 billion years ago, but you can see evidence of what it was,” said NASA astrobiologist Lindsey Hayes. “You see things like the remains of a huge river delta, which not only indicates the flow of water, but you likely have had a lot of water over a long period of time that kept depositing sediment.”

And where there was water, there could have been life. Last year, a new rover landed on Mars, and this is our best chance to answer the question, “Has there ever been life on Mars?” If the answer is yes, it could change our understanding of how widespread life is in the universe.

The inexplicable An episode will air on Mars on June 22.

In-depth reading: NASA’s latest probe is our best chance yet to find life on Mars

Is there a real ninth planet lurking in the dark?

Pluto July 13

Sorry, Pluto, a new ninth planet may come.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union Vote for change Determine what the planet is, but Pluto did not work out. There are no longer nine official planets in the solar system, but eight.

But then “we started getting these signals that something else actually existed – and a real giant planet that we think might be far from Neptune, just waiting to be found,” astronomer Mike Brown said. inexplicable† Astronomers have not yet discovered this planet, but they doubt its existence: other distant objects in the Solar System seem to have been affected by gravity.

Could these hints lead us to a real new ninth planet? Can. But it will be difficult to find.

“It’s like taking a small black grain of sand and throwing it on the beach,” Brown says of the research process. “It will be a bit difficult to find that in the sea among the rest. And that is the problem of Planet Nine.”

In-depth reading: In search of Planet 9

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