Space Surprises


Image by Kaitlyn Mclnnis

During 2020 there were many things happening and it was overall very chaotic. Now that it is 2021 and things have been getting back together, there have been many discoveries in space that not many people know about. There have been a lot of confusing things we discovered, and we do have a lot of unanswered questions. 

Chinese scientists published an analysis of a gel-like substance they found on the far side of the moon in July 2019. On July 28, 2019 the Yutu 2 was down for its “nap” to protect it from high temperatures and radiation from the sun. A team member checked the main camera and they saw a small crater that seemed to contain a material with a color and luster unlike the surrounding lunar surface. Chinese researchers described the material like paper. 

On September 14, 2020, a chemical fingerprint of phosphine was found in Venus’ atmosphere. There is no explanation on why this was on the planet, but it was very confusing for scientists and researchers. The chemistry on the clouds should have destroyed the monaclue before it could grow to the amount it was found. David Grinspoon of the Planetary Science Institute says “It’s tremendously exciting, and we have a sort of obligatory response of first questioning whether the result is real.”

Nasa’s SOFIA discovered water on a sunlit surface of the moon. This indicates that water might have been distributed across the surface and not limited to shadowed cold places. “We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon,” director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, Paul Hertz said. “Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”

The solar Orbiter mission recently took the closest pictures of the sun. In the pictures there are small solar flares called “campfires” that are near the sun’s surface. Scientists do not know what they exactly are. But they think it could be naoflames which help heat the sun’s outer atmosphere. 

There have been many more discoveries recently, but these seem to be the most surprising. “I immediately freaked out, of course. I presumed it was a mistake, but I very much wanted it to not be a mistake,” says study co-author Clara Sousa-Silva, a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who initially identified phosphine as a potential biosignature. This shows that recent discoveries have been a shock to researchers. Though they might not seem like a big deal, they can lead to something more.