A Rundown of Recent Events in Space Exploration



A photo of Juipter’s moon, Europa, which as of late is being explored in search of extraterrestrial life.

Anvi Bhagavatula, Photojournalist

In the past two years, the world has changed immensely. Everything from COVID to Tik Tok trends to the Russia Vs. Ukraine warfare. All through that time, space exploration has been at its zenith. Since mainstream news can only cover so much, a summary of recent events in space exploration is due. 

On March 21, 2022, NASA released an article announcing that a huge revelation has been made in the finding of extrasolar planets, planets that are located outside of the solar system. Exactly 5,000 have been found using the 10 billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope. These planets contain a variety of terrain, some of which are similar to Jupiter, which is a gas giant, and others that are similar to Earth, and are small and rocky. This finding of such a large number of planets has led to the theory that there are around 100 to 200 billion undiscovered planets near us in the galaxy. 

In other countries, such as China, new discoveries have also been made. China’s rover, Zhurong, discovered how ancient water and weather changed the terrain of Mars. China also recently sent their first female astronaut onto China’s space station. Also regarding international revelations, the ISS has just recently celebrated its 20th birthday. With that, it created a list of 20 of its most important findings. They’ve found everything from the foundations of new terrain around the galaxy to how growing plants at the ISS will allow for the creation of new medicines.

Using new telescopes, NASA has also found uncovered comets. One of which, found in 2021, is the Bernardelli-Bernstein comet, which is apparently 1000 times more massive than a regular comet. This comet has refrained from orbiting around the sun since Earth only held hominids like Lucy, three million years ago. 

Speaking of Tik Tok trends, something a lot of people have been posting about lately is  using the NASA website and inputting their birthday to see what the Hubble telescope saw on that day. This trend is bringing people from all interests and fields to look at a photo of the galaxy for a moment, Karina Hiranandani (10) stated, “I thought the photo they showed on my birthday was really pretty…it made me realize how much of space we’ve yet to discover.”  For example, on March 21, 1996, Hubble caught a photo of two colliding galaxies, one of them significantly larger than the other. 

The future plan for space includes the discussion of why exactly we explore space. Many scientists say that it’s to learn about the dangers and benefits of space around us as well as understanding new forms of science through exploration. The movement towards new worlds may also guarantee human survival. In 2020, NASA created a 10 year plan, including searching for life near Saturn, sending more humans back to the moon, photographing the Big Bang, and searching for aliens in Jupiter’s moon, Europa.