Lunar Lore: 65 Lesser-Known Facts About Moons and Their Planetary Partners

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1European Extremely Large Telescope

European Extremely Large Telescope

Europe is building European Extremely Large Telescope that will produce images 15 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope, possibly enabling it to observe Earthlike exoplanets. First light is planned for 2024.


2. Mira, a dying star zipping through our universe is shedding its matter leaving a tail 13 light-years in length. Each bit of its shed matter may one day grow into a new, individual star and planets of its own.


3. The Greeks had proposed heliocentrism 2000 years before Copernicus: Aristarchus arranged the planets in order of distance from the Sun, concluding that it could not be in orbit around the Earth because a body that large could not orbit a body so small.


4. Astronomers have a good idea of what other planets would smell like based on their atmospheric composition. Venus and Mars would smell like rotten eggs, while Uranus is odorless.


5. There’s enough space between the Earth and the moon to fit in the all the rest of the planets in the solar system.


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6Interstellar Internet

Interstellar Internet

NASA is creating an “interstellar internet”, called Disruption-Tolerant Networking (DTN). It can transmit information through solar storms, solar flares, and even past planets without losing any original data. It successfully sent images to a spacecraft located 20 million miles from earth.


7. On April Fool's Day, 1976, the BBC convinced many listeners that a special alignment of the planets would temporarily decrease gravity on Earth. Phone lines were flooded with callers who claimed they felt the effects


8. A Catholic bishop named Robert Grosseteste described the birth of the Universe in an explosion and the crystallization of matter to form stars and planets in a set of nested spheres around Earth in 1225 AD, about four centuries before Newton proposed gravity and 7 centuries before the Big Bang theory.


9. In 2012, White House responded to a petition to have a Death Star built by stating that "the Administration does not support blowing up planets" and that it would not fund a weapon "with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship."


10. It snows metal on Venus


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11Shuffling cards

Shuffling cards

If each star in our galaxy had a trillion planets, with a trillion people living on them, and each of these people has a trillion packs of cards and somehow they manage to make unique shuffles 1,000 times per second since the Big Bang, they'd only be starting to repeat shuffles now.


12. In the last 7 years, humanity has discovered 43 potentially habitable planets.


13. 63 Earths can fit inside Uranus


14. Even if a black hole with the same mass as the sun were to replace it, Earth and the other planets would orbit the black hole as they orbit the sun now and not get sucked in.


15. Two of the moons in our solar system (Ganymede & Titan) are actually larger than the planet Mercury.


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16Ganymede

Ganymede

If Ganymede wasn’t Jupiter’s moon, it would have to be considered a planet because it's larger than Mercury.


17. The first manmade aircraft to successfully land on another planet and send back data was the Soviet Venera 7 in 1970. After landing on Venus, the craft sent back only 23 minutes of weak data, presumably because it landed on its side.


18. Galileo sent two coded message to Keppler, that Saturn has rings, and that Venus has phases (circles the sun, not the earth), which Keppler incorrectly decoded as Mars has two moons and Jupiter has a big red spot. Although not what Galileo had written, both would later be proven true.


19. From 1975-82, Russia had six probes land on the surface of Venus, surviving temperatures of 855 °F and successfully taking photos.


20. The Mariner 1 probe, which was meant to orbit Venus, failed because of a missing hyphen in a line of code, making it the most expensive typo in the history.


21Geodynamics of Venus

Geodynamics of Venus

The Soviet Venera landings revealed that the surface of Venus is essentially basaltic in composition based on geochemical measurements and morphology of volcanic flows.


22. In 2012, a sleepy Air Canada pilot mistook the planet Venus for an oncoming plane and sent his Air Canada jet into a steep dive that bounced passengers off the ceiling, injuring 16, and nearly caused a collision with a real plane flying 1,000 feet lower.


23. Venus spins on its axis so slowly (4 mph) that the average human could easily outwalk it.


24. The USSR were to first to launch a satellite into orbit, launch a man into space, launch a woman into space, the first spacewalk, put the first man-made object on the moon, made the first soft landing on the moon, the first landing on another planet, had several probes transmitting from Venus, had the first space station and the first long-duration space station. For a country that supposedly lost the space race those are a lot of firsts.


25. In 2013, India’s army watched “Chinese spy drones” violating its airspace for six months. They later found out they were actually watching Jupiter and Venus.

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