February 2017 saw one of the most significant finds in the history of exoplanet discovery. NASA announced the revelation of seven Earth-sized planets huddled around a single star. Not only is it the first time so many Earth-like planets have been found in orbit around the same star, but it has rocketed hopes among astronomers that the hunt for alien life will progress much sooner than previously anticipated!
The discovery has everyone excited about the future of the cosmos, and so we thought we’d take a look at some more exciting developments happening right now in the world of space exploration.
The Asteroid Redirect Mission
NASA is developing a robotic mission to visit a large near-Earth asteroid, collecting a boulder sample from its surface, and redirecting it into a stable orbit around the moon. Once stabilised, astronauts will explore it and return with further samples in the 2020s. This mission is part of a grand NASA plan to advance the new technologies and spaceflight experience needed to embark on a human mission to the Martian system in the 2030s.
All these amazing discoveries cannot be made without technology and innovation! On Earth and in space, cutting-edge technologies such as solar electric propulsion and composite cryogenic storage tanks, are constantly being developed and tested to help improve our capabilities of exploration and learning.
A mission that has stirred much debate is the Mars One project.
Mars One aims to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars, heralding humankind’s first step towards becoming a multi-planetary species. Yikes! Can we do that? Could we really live on other planets?
Well as we know it, Mars is the only planet that can currently feasibly support human life.
The project will see extensive research and several unmanned missions carried out before any human inhabitants begin to live on the Red Planet, allowing a habitable settlement to be established before carefully selected and trained crews arrive. Once they arrive, the Mars One crews will be there to stay: living, exploring, and creating a second home for humanity. The first crews are expected to depart for Mars in 2031.