23 Mar 2020

8 Things You Didn’t Know about Space


1. The Sun’s Mass Takes Up 99.86% Of The Solar System

The Sun accounts for 99.86% of the mass in our solar system, that’s about 330,000 times that of Earth. It’s made of three-quarters hydrogen and helium for most of its remaining mass.

2. Neutron Stars Can Spin 600 Times Per Second

Neutron stars are one of the possible end-points of high mass stars. They are created when the core of a supernova star collapses causing an explosion and can rotate extremely rapidly as a consequence of this reaction. Neutron stars can rotate up to 60 times per second after born. Under special circumstances, this rate can increase to more than 600 times per second.
Swinburne University

8 Things About Space - spinning gif | Stemettes Zine

3. The Position Of The North Star Will Change

In case you didn’t know, Earth’s axis goes through a motion called “precession”. This is when the planet’s axis change, and trace out the shape of a cone. When this occurs, it takes around 26,000 years for the axis to trace out a complete cone shape. Polaris, the Earth’s current “North Star” will eventually begin to shift positions as the Earth undergoes precession. 

In 3,000 B.C., it’s believed that the North Star was the star Thuban. In about 13,000 years, the star Vega will be the new North Star. But in 26,000 years, Polaris will return to its original position as the Earth continues to go through precession.

4. There Are Mirrors On The Moon

Sitting in the moondust lies a 2-foot wide panel studded with 100 mirrors pointing at Earth. This is called the “lunar laser ranging retroreflector array.” Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong put it there on July 21, 1969, about an hour before the end of their final moonwalk. Thirty-five years later, it’s the only Apollo science experiment still running.

8 Things About Space - astronaut gif | Stemettes Zine

5. There’s A Volcano On Mars & It’s 3 Times The Size Of Everest

8 Things About Space - mars volcano | Stemettes Zine

At 600 km wide and 21 km high, Olympus Mons is a volcano on Mars that may still be active, according to scientists. It is the tallest peak of any planet. However, the Rheasilvia central peak on the asteroid Vesta is taller at 22 km.

6. Saturn Isn’t The Only Planet With Rings

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are the 4 gaseous planets in our solar system that have rings. Many associate planetary rings with Saturn as its rings are more visible and colourful. For decades, researchers believed that Saturn was the only planet with rings too, but thanks to advancements in technology, space probes have discovered rings around the gaseous planets.
Read more from the World Atlas here >>

8 Things About Space - planet gif | Stemettes Zine

7. Only 1 Brit Has Been To The International Space Station

239 individuals from 19 countries have visited the International Space Station. This includes:

  • 151 people from the US
  • 47 people from Russia
  • 9 people from Japan
  • 8 people from Canada
  • 5 from Italy
  • 4 from France
  • 3 from Germany
  • 1 from the UK, Malaysia, South Africa, South Korea and the UAE

8. Venus And Uranus Spin Backwards

Every other planet, including Earth, spins from West to East, but Venus and Uranus spin from West to East and scientists are entirely sure why yet.

8 Things About Space - why gif | Stemettes Zine

One of the most long-standing hypotheses is that Venus and Uranus originally rotated counter-clockwise, like Earth, but were struck by massive objects (perhaps other planets) that sent them spinning in different directions. In 2011, simulations suggested that a number of smaller collisions, rather than one big impact, knocked Uranus’ spin to an angle of 98 degrees. 


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