10 Outer Space Facts That Will Blow Your Mind
Published on January 30, 2024
Credit: Graham Holtshausen
Exploring our surroundings is part of human nature . Thus, humankind has explored the heights of mountains and the depths of oceans. But since our hunger for knowledge is boundless, our curiosity extends to outer space, too.
The vastness and beauty of space leave us breathless, and while we've been studying it for ages, there is still so much we don't know about it.
Luckily, there are some things we do know. In this article, we'll tell you 10 amazing facts you probably didn't know about outer space!
Mars has a volcano larger than Mount Everest
Credit: Nicolas Lobos
Olympus Mons is its name, and it is almost three times bigger than our Everest .
As you probably already know, Everest is the highest mountain on Earth, standing an astounding 5.5 miles above sea level. Huge, right? But wait, Everest looks like a baby compared to the dimensions of Olympus Mons.
At an impressive 13.6 miles in height and some 435 miles across , this Martian giant claims the title of the largest known volcano in our Solar System .
It is located in the Tharsis Montes, a volcanic region in Mars' western hemisphere, and the crater at its summit****is no small feat either, measuring about 53 miles in diameter !
Moonwalkers' footprints will remain there for millions of years
Weather conditions or other people's footsteps will surely erase the prints you once left on the beach. Footprints on Earth can be ephemeral, but the same is not true on the Moon.
Did you know that the step marks left by astronauts who walked on the Moon more than 50 years ago are still there? And they will likely remain for millions of years.
While this may seem impossible to believe, it is true thanks to the Moon's unique conditions. Although some properties of the Moon could indeed alter its surface, their effect has proven to be very slight. With no rain or wind to erase them, the human footprints left there can still be seen.
When you look at the stars you see the past
Credit: Jeremy Perkins
Have you ever dreamed of time travel ? So do we! Whether to fix past mistakes or to take a walk through history, the desire to travel back in time is universal.
Although using a time machine is not (yet) possible, there is an alternative: looking at the night sky. Yes, it's that simple.
Given the vast distances, light from the stars takes years to reach us. So, when you look at the stars, you are actually seeing what they looked like many years ago.
Do you wonder if that star still exists? Well, it's a mystery.
Our galaxy will collide with another
Let's talk about fates. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is destined to collide with our neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy .
Of course, there will be chaos, but although this sounds like a tragedy, the merge of these two will lead to the emergence of a new and more complex galaxy .
Anyway, this will happen in about 4 billion years . It's not something that should stress you out.
A day is longer than a year on Venus
A place where a day lasts longer than a year : This fact may seem crazy, but let's examine it in detail.
For a planet, a year is the time it takes to complete one revolution around the Sun. In contrast, day is the time it takes for a planet to make one complete rotation about its axis.
Venus not only rotates in the opposite direction of Earth but also does so at a relatively slow pace. Venus takes 243 Earth days to rotate on its axis . On the other hand, it takes 225 Earth days to go around the Sun. That is, it takes longer to complete a day than a year.
Fun fact: as the planet rotates backward, the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east there.
Mars has bluish sunsets
Credit: Martin Jernberg
Speaking of crazy sunsets, this one will blow your mind.
Ah, nothing like watching a beautiful sunset, right? Those orange, red, and even pink shades have moved poets and inspired artists since ancient times.
But if we lived on Mars, things would turn a little blue. According to NASA, a sunset on the Red Planet would appear bluish to the human eye , thanks to its atmosphere, which is dominated by large dust particles. These particles filter out the Sun's red light, allowing the blues to make their way into our sight.
Neptune has completed only one orbit around the Sun since 1846
Neptune is more than 30 times as far from the Sun as Earth. In fact, it is the farthest planet from the Sun , and, unlike Venus, its days are much (much) shorter than its years. A day on Neptune lasts about 16 Earth hours, while a year on this ice giant takes 165 Earth years!
That's right, cold Neptune has only gone around the Sun once since its discovery in 1846.
Next time you find yourself stressing about taking too long to complete a task, just think of Neptune. Suddenly, you are not doing so badly, right?
The Moon is lemon-shaped
Credit: Ganapathy Kumar
From Earth, we see the Moon as this beautiful, luminous sphere that understands our night sorrows, but its reality is quite different.
In fact, our Moon not only has no light of its own, but it is not even a sphere , at least not a perfect one.
You can grab a rubber ball and gently squeeze its opposite sides to get a rough idea of the Moon's shape . Another way to picture its figure is to look at a lemon, with its irregularities and all.
Let's not leave aside the lesson: its imperfection does not make it any less beautiful.
The Moon is moving away
Credit: Nathan Anderson
We have another piece of news about the Moon : it is moving away from us. The good part is that it is not that determined to leave us since it is moving only 1.5 inches per year .
Currently, the space between our planet and the Moon could fit about 30 Earths, which is already a lot. But it seems that our Moon needs more room.
The Moon's gradual receding from the Earth happens due to gravitational interactions between the two celestial bodies. When this occurs, the Earth's rotation slows down, and the Moon moves into a more distant orbit.
Saturn has more than 100 moons
Imagine looking up at the night sky and seeing not one but two moons. It would be moving, wouldn't it? Now, if you increase the number to five or ten moons, things can start to look a little weird.
Jupiter has 95 moons, which already seems overwhelming. But Saturn beats it by far, with 145 moons discovered so far around the planet.
With this number, Saturn has more moons than all the other planets in the Solar System combined!