1. Spacecraft have visited every planet
For over 60 years, we’ve been able to get some good close-up pictures of our space travels. Throughout this time, we’ve sent our spacecraft to Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — as well as the little ones, Pluto and Ceres. The bulk of these flybys were from NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft, which left Earth in 1977 and are still transmitting data from beyond the solar system in interstellar space.
2. There may be life in the solar system
While there’s no evidence that life exists elsewhere in the solar system, there are some microbes that live in underwater volcanic vents or in frozen environments. This opens up possibilities that there could be life on elsewhere in the galaxy. Don’t worry, Planet Mars. We’re still thinking of you. In fact, scientists want to take precautions to sterilize spacecraft before sending anyone there. Other destinations with microbes include Jupiter’s Europa, or perhaps underneath the ice at Saturn’s Enceladus, among other locations.
3. Mercury Shrinking Away
For many years, scientists believed that Earth was the only tectonically active planet in the solar system. But the MESSENGER spacecraft changed that. It did the first orbital mission at Mercury, mapping the entire planet in high definition and getting a look at the features on its surface. The 2016 data from MESSENGER showed fault scarps. Seeing as these are pretty small, scientists believe they weren’t created long ago and the planet is still contracting 4.5 billion years after the solar system was formed.
4. There are mountains on Pluto
Pluto’s tiny world was thought to have a pretty uniform environment. However, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft showed things differently when it flew by there in 2015. The pictures showed icy mountains, which indicates Pluto must have been geologically active as little as 100 million years ago. However, the energy creating that activity is a mystery. Also, the sun is too far away for Pluto generate heat, and But geological activity requires energy, and there are no large planets nearby that could have caused such disruption with gravity.