If you think science has already uncovered every dangerous and extraordinary phenomenon under the sun then think again, we are right now in the midst of the greatest era of space discovery. Many of the wondrous discoveries are happening right here and right now in our own cosmic backyard.
Our solar system is a really fantastic place. And scientists have not found anything quite like our solar system after discovering so many other planetary bodies.
Come join in the magical journey to unveil the seven wonders of the solar system.
We first head to the orbit of Saturn.
Most of the solar system moons are geologically dead. But on Nov 2, 2009, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft orbits the planet Saturn and its cameras capture something bizarre happening on one of its outer moons, the Enceladus. It suddenly showed gigantic geysers of water and ice ejecting from the cracks on its surface a phenomenon called Prio volcanism. The Cassini spacecraft flies directly into gigantic plumes that blast directly into space at 1400 miles per hour. This phenomenon has never been seen in any of the other icy moons in outer solar system. This proved that Enceladus is active.
Scientists have counted at least 30 geysers jets spouting from narrow geological fractures called tiger stripes located along the south polar region of the Enceladus. Heated liquid water from inside a cauldron below the surface go sprouting out through some Vance in the south polar region and when that water comes out and encounters the cold surrounding space and freezes forming snowflakes and ice particles. Enceladus rotates around Saturn in an elliptical pathway, so when it is nearer to Saturn the gravitational pull of the planet creates a stronger tidal pull than when it’s far away from it. That leads to a rubbing in the interior materials and release of energy. This tidal friction helps melt the inside and helps to keep the water in the molten or semi-molten state. If liquid water exists beneath the surface it could be teaming with organic molecules. These along with the relatively warm temperatures are the essential ingredients for creating life.
6. RINGS OF SATURN
The rings named in alphabetical order as they were discovered are among the dazzling sights in the sky. Among the seven main rings, it’s estimated the gaseous planet has thousands of ringlets comprised of 35 trillion tons of ice and dust containing almost 26 million times the water as that on earth. According to the scientists, they may have consisted of materials that never had a chance to form the moon because of gravitational influences of Saturn itself. Or maybe there might be moons that rotated so close enough to Saturn that shattered into pieces because of the strong tidal forces of the planet. Or possibly a comet came in and got disrupted due to an immense gravitational force of Saturn. What’s even more remarkable is that scientists have counted 62 moons embedded inside these rings of the planet. August 11, 2009, a rare equinox photo of Saturn shows her ring edge on to the sun.The image unveils a shocking fact, the bright bands once appeared to be solid and flat actually contain ridges spanning from a few feet to mountain ranges. But how are these mile high mountains formed? NASA’s Cassini mission actually captured images of embedded moons sweeping through Saturn’s rings causing them to twist and ripple creating ever-changing patterns.
5. JUPITER’S GREAT RED SPOT
This ancient storm that has been spinning wildly around for centuries is the mother of all storms and about 3 times the size of the earth. The super-sized vortex towers 5 miles above the planet’s cloud tops and dwarfs any storm system on earth with speed measuring 400 miles per hour. The great red spot on Jupiter’s southern hemisphere rotates counter-clockwise and that’s because it’s a high-pressure system unlike the low-pressure systems here on earth that makes the storm rotate clockwise.
The origin of this long-lived storm has baffled the astronomers but now the science is on the verge of unraveling its secrets. Scientists now believe that the characteristic red color is due to the chemical compounds that are reacting with the sunlight. But scientists have noticed over the years it becoming shrink going rounder in size with an assumption that it may disappear in future.
4. ASTEROID BELT
Scientists want to know more about this cosmic junkyard which is leftover from the formation of the solar system. Some as small as several feet and some even bigger than cities. The belt probably contains millions of rocky pieces yet if all the pieces coalesce into one boulder it will be smaller than our moon. Popular movies have portrayed the asteroid belt as a cosmic obstacle course, a place where spaceship dodge enormous boulder that collides and jostle for position before hurtling down from space to destroy planet earth. But has Hollywood gotten it wrong?? If you were to orbit the asteroid belt it would seem like a distant star like objects that’s because the distance between them is much bigger than their size. In fact, an average distance between 2 asteroids can be 1 million miles. However, among these spacious seas of odd-shaped rocks exists a round ball Ceres.
It is the biggest asteroid known. The awesome 600-mile rock contains a fourth of the entire mass of the asteroid belt. It has enough mass and gravity to crush itself into a round shape. Because of its spherical shape, Ceres was upgraded as a dwarf planet. This fourth wonder not only holds unique artifacts from the formation of our solar system, it also harbors potential weapons of mass destruction. Many asteroids have escaped the confides of the asteroid belt and at any moment one of these rocks might repeat history and no one would live to tell the tale.
3. OLYMPUS MONS: LARGEST VOLCANO IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM
Olympus Mons is located in the Tharsis Montes a region on the red planet that is home to other massive volcanoes. Its summit is 13 miles above the ground. It is formed eruptions after eruptions that slowly surfaced it with layers of lava. A hundred million years ago hot lava rivers poured down from its peak to cover millions of square miles of the red planet. Today Olympus Mons is 100 times the volume of earth’s largest volcano Mauna Loa, located on the big island of Hawaii. Olympus Mons could build up to a pretty huge volcano without collapsing because of mar’s low gravity and also because Mars does not have plate tectonics. Mars is now presumed to be geologically inactive, but is the volcanic beast really dead or is it merely a sleeping giant??
2. THE SIZZLING SURFACE OF THE SUN
The surface of the sun is always chaotic. It is always bubbling and boiling. In particular, there are hot cells of gas that come out from the interior up radiate their energy cool and then come back down.The surface of the sun called photosphere is incredibly noisy and violent place. There are temperatures thousands of degrees, there are continuous magnetic storms that create huge and thunder-like sounds. NASA’s solar and heliospheric observatory (SOHO) recently took dramatic movies of coronal mass ejections (CME). These massive bubbles of hot ionized gas contain up to 10 billion tons of solar material. They shoot out into space at several million miles an hour.
When large CME’s are blasted towards earth they can trigger Geomagnetic storms. These blobs of ionized particles can even terminate or damage satellites. CME’s generate x-rays and luckily our planet’s atmosphere absorbs these x-rays and we don’t experience its bad effects. Solar activity runs through an 11-year-old cycle. In 2013 our sun was at the peak of this cycle called the solar maximum.
The fifth largest planet is without a doubt the most amazing wonder of the solar system. The earth is brimming with its beauty and unlike any other planet, water covers 2/3rd of its surface.Its continents inherit a diverse landscape and its the only planet confirmed to support life in all its amazing forms. It has just got the right proportion of heat and water to support all forms of species. Scientists are now retracing the path back to the formation of our planet to explain how life started on earth.
4.6 billion years ago in the swirling disk of debris left from the formation of our sungas and dust particles began to come together that eventually formed large boulders of rock and ice that we see today as asteroids and comets. For millions of years, these bodies collided and coalesced to form planets.During this birthing, process earth acquired some special properties. One unique feature is its abundant liquid water. It is thought that the earliest volcanoes spewed out massive amounts of steam which condensed into a rain and supplied the planet with water.
Water appears to be a key component of life. It was previously theorized that life began in a primordial soup, a warm pond containing atmospheric and energy elements to make amino acids.
About 3 billion years ago, ancient underwater bacteria began to evolve water, co2 and sunlight to produce carbohydrates in order to survive. This process called photosynthesis ingested the vast amount of oxygen into sea water and eventually our atmosphere. After a few million years of planetary and biological evolution, the first plants and animals emerged from water onto land.
It’s estimated that humans came only 200 thousand years ago and with our evolution came technological revolution of our planet. Humans changed the way earth looks from the ground and from space.
Thus ending our magical cosmic journey.