With only two days down, it’s already been a great week to be a space geek. First up? Moon news. You might have missed over the weekend, but scientists have discovered a “lunar hole” that experts are saying may make an ideal home for future moon colonists. Yes, you read that right. According to researchers, the hole is approximately 213 feet wide and 260 feet deep, and is technically a lava tube which the article defines as “cylinder-shaped caverns… carved out by lava flows, volcanic eruptions, seismic activity or ground collapse resulting from meteoroid strikes”.
What’s particularly interesting about these lava tubes is that they’re covered by a thin layer of lava, which could help protect colonists and researchers inside from the harsh conditions on the moon. This is particularly good news for NASA who, according to CNN, plans to return to the moon in 2020 with its sights on establishing a moon colony in 2025. (Or… perhaps send Sam Rockwell up there.)
Additionally, the Kepler space telescope has also made some intriguing discoveries: namely five planets of varying size. Kepler’s range is about 3,000 light-years from earth, and these planets—most of which are larger than our Jupiter—are likely to be the first among many discovered by the telescope. Their temperatures might not be exactly comfortable, some higher than 2,240 degrees Farenheit. But in spite of the hostile environment, the Kepler team is optimistic about discovering planets in what’s called the “hospitable zone”—that is, planets capable of supporting life, like our Earth.
To add to the space exploration excitement is the fact that, in our nearby Milky Way, scientists believe that of the stars studied so far, only about a third are more active than our sun, releasing more solar blasts. Astronomer Caty Pilachowski says that that fact is “is good news for exobiology (alien life) and good news for planet detection. Kepler is going to find a lot of planets.”
Kepler has also discovered two well, somethings. According to the USA Today article:
Meanwhile, Kepler has also found two mystery objects that are too hot to be planets and too small to be stars.
Kepler discovered the two new heavenly bodies each circling its own star. Borucki says the objects are thousands of degrees hotter than the stars they circle. That means they probably are not planets. They are bigger and hotter than planets in our solar system, including dwarf planets.
Ah, just your average week in space gazing. Really gets the sci-fi geek in me all a thither!