If we say that Earth is our home, then the solar system is our neighborhood. As far as exploration, humankind has barely stepped out into the front yard.
Although a great effort has been made in exploring our solar system, up until now, the farthest humankind has stepped out is the moon with the Apollo mission half-a-century ago.
With our eyes set on Mars, we are eager to set foot on the planet other than Earth. This may be something not as far fetched as it may have been a few decades ago.
Technology is better, and our vehicles are far more capable than ever before. We’ll be returning to the moon in the next few years, and there’s talk of a lunar colony in less than a decade.
Once a lunar colony is established, it’ll serve as a launch platform to further take humankind into space.
In addition to the eight planets, everyone is familiar with. Many other bodies travel inside the solar system.
There are asteroids, comets, and dwarf planets of different shapes and sizes. There are even interstellar comets, traveling from distant alien star systems, wandering through space.
Dwarf planet Ceres
One of the more exciting objects inside our solar system is a planetoid called Ceres. It’s a dwarf planet, and we’ve uncommanded spacecraft have already explored it.
Ceres orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter’s orbits, and it is the largest astronomical object in the asteroid belt.
Ceres has a diameter of approximately 945 km, making it the thirty-third most massive known object in the solar system.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft visited Ceres in 2015. The measurements and data it took helped us understand what a special object Ceres is.
This new information has helped us find that Ceres is not a primitive, arid space rock; it is a strange dwarf planet, and it likely has deep, subterranean oceans beneath its surface, and scientists have already proposed that it may even host all necessary elements for life as we know it to exist there.
Recent data suggest that Ceres was likely geologically active in the past and that some of its strange bright dots—which some attributed to aliens—are the result of different geological processes as well as ice volcanoes.
The New Horizon’s spacecraft is hurtling towards interstellar space. However, on New Year’s 2019, it flew past a mysterious object located in the solar system’s outermost edges. Dubbed Ultima Thule, the object known as MU 69 is a complex primordial contact binary.
Located around 4 billion miles from the planet, Ultima Thule became the first investigation by any space mission of a well-preserved planetesimal.
Mu69 is an ancient relic from the era of planetary formation in the solar system. In other words, we can say it is a grandparent to our solar system’s planets.
There’s—probably—a strange planet orbiting our Sun so far away that we’ve not been able to observe it to this day directly.
Dubbed Planet X, or Planet Nine, the hypothetical world is very likely real, but we haven’t been able to spot it yet. Its existence could explain the strange orbits of many cosmic bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune.
Certain cosmic bodies that orbit our Sun at average distances of more than 250 times that of the Earth and called eTNO’s (which stands for extreme trans-Neptunian objects) have strange orbits that have led some scientists to theorize a massive cosmic body—planet X—exists.
Planet X has a hypothetical mass of five to ten times that of the Earth, which would make it a super-Earth, the first of its kind in our solar system.
Whether Planet X is real or not remains to be seen.
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