About one in five Americans believes that the Sun revolves around the Earth. And if you happened to collect 12 of those people on a jury in which the orbiting properties of our solar system were up for debate, the headlines about the verdict would probably read “Earth revolves around Sun, declares American jury.” But that wouldn’t make it true.
If we want to find alien life in our solar system, Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is one of the best places to look for it. And scientists may get a chance to do just that in the coming decades. A new NASA report outlines the goals for a mission that could land on the icy moon as soon as the 2031.
The history of our solar system is a history of collisions. Massive, world-shattering collisions. Evidence of these collisions rains down on us every day in the form of meteorites—rocks hurled into space when massive asteroids crash into each other. For the first time, researchers have examined some of the rocky relics of a particularly colossal crash that occurred 466 million years ago. The results, published in Nature Astronomy, show that some of the rarest meteorites of the modern world were once commonplace, making up more than a third of the total space debris.
A “violent encounter with Jupiter” may have hurled a fifth gas giant out of our solar system billions of years ago. A simulation done by the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado suggests that our solar system may have included another gaseous giant, placed between Saturn and Uranus. The computer models may prove how the planets of our solar system settled in their current position, a long-standing source of mystery to astronomers.