To people on Earth, space is just emptiness that surrounds our planet. It starts at about 60 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth and everything beyond that is nothing but vacuum. Since there is no oxygen in a vacuum, humans can’t breathe without spacesuits in it.
However, space is not truly empty – on the contrary, space is full of planets, stars, and galaxies, and between them float gas, dust, and matter. And while we are not sure how big space is, we can measure it in light-years, which represent the distance it takes light to travel in a single year – that’s roughly 5.8 trillion miles (9.3 trillion kilometers).
There are so many incredible facts about space that go unmentioned, and if you’re interested in learning them, sit back and relax.
The hottest planet in our solar system
Even though Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, it is not the hottest planet in our system. The reason why is that Mercury doesn’t have an atmosphere which would help regulate temperatures so they fluctuate a lot. The hottest planet in our solar system is Venus, the second closest planet to the Sun with an average surface temperature of 832°F (450°C).
There could be life on Mars
When you think about it, it seems strange that out of all the planets in our solar system Earth is the only habitable planet. However, this does not mean that life never existed on any of the other planets.
Scientists believe that Mars could be hospitable to life. During a 1986 exploration mission, NASA found something that resembles fossils of microscopic living things.
As a matter of fact, scientists are so convinced that Mars could be habitable that they are planning the first human mission to the planet in 2025.
You can’t count the stars
Space is so vast that scientists can’t accurately tell how many stars are out there. At the moment, they are using the number of stars within the Milky Way as a reference. Milky Way, our very own galaxy, has anywhere between 200-400 billion stars and scientists estimate there are billions of other galaxies – so don’t try to do the math.
The famous comet
Halley’s Comet, the most famous ‘periodic’ comet in the world, was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1705. It passes by Earth every 75-76 years and it was last seen in 1986. This means that the next time we get to see Halley’s Comet is in 2061.
The most expensive suit
Believe it or not, building a NASA suit from scratch can cost up to US$250 million. However, the ‘average’ flight-rated NASA space suit costs a measly US$12 million. The majority of that cost is built into the backpack and the control module. Doesn’t sound like a lot when you know it takes care of your life, right?
A planet made out of diamonds
According to research conducted by Yale University scientists, a planet called 55 Cancri e could potentially have a surface made up of graphite and diamond. It has double the radius of Earth and eight times greater mass, which means there could be plenty of diamonds. The planet is just 40 light-years away in the constellation of Cancer and it’s even visible to the naked eye – if you can single it out.
Footprints on the Moon
Did you know? that the footprints of Apollo astronauts will be visible on the Moon for millions and millions of years? How is that you may ask? Well, the Moon does not have an atmosphere, which means there are no winds that would wipe away the footprints. That’s why their footprints, spacecraft prints, and mission remnants will be visible for many years.
The metal bond
Since there is no air or water in space, two pieces of the same metal can weld together – the scientists refer to this as cold welding. This happens because the atoms of the metal can’t tell that they are not the same piece of metal and they bond. On the other hand, this can’t happen on Earth because air and water are interrupting the atoms.
Mass of the Sun takes up 99.86% of the solar system
It might sound weird, but it is true. Our Sun has a mass around 330,000 times greater than Earth and accounts for 99.86% of the mass of our entire solar system.
The Moon was once a part of the Earth
Many people don’t know that our Moon was once a part of the Earth. Scientists believe that at some point, Earth was hit by a giant object that broke a piece of Earth and created the Moon. And because of the Earth’s gravitational pull, the piece began to orbit the planet.