This week, numerous stories about the ever-evolving activities in space came to light. News about Oumuamua – the very first interstellar asteroid to visit our solar system dominated the scientific community, as Nasa scientists revealed more details about the odd cigar-shaped asteroid.
Oumuamua's visit was closely followed by yet another revelation – a new study by University of Edinburgh researchers, who said that space dust could potentially have delivered alien microorganisms to and from Earth. In other words, according to the researchers, interplanetary dust could have potentially transported life across space, both within the solar system and outside.
IBTimes UK's science team has compiled a list of the best space stories of the week to keep all you space enthusiasts up to date on what's happening beyond our planet.
Nasa's James Webb telescope, which is slated to be launched in 2019, achieved a major milestone this week. The massive telescope successfully completed its cryogenic testing phase, which was conducted to determine whether the telescope would be operational in a freezing, airless temperatures – an environment similar to that of space.
A mysterious, brightly-burning object was caught on camera zooming across the heavily trafficked Heathrow airport, just a few moments before a passenger jet landed. The video clip of the incident, which showed the apparent close shave the passenger flight had with the object, went viral. However, nature of the object still remains unknown.
Budweiser announced the upcoming launch of its microgravity beer experiments, which is slated to take place aboard the International Space Station. The beer maker's ambitious desire to be the "first beer on Mars" fuelled this project. Budweiser said that it would send 20 barley seeds to the space station, which will remain in orbit for a month, before they make their way back to Earth to be further analysed. The experiment could lead the beer manufacturer to become the first to offer a pint to future humans living on Mars.
Ever since Cassini plunged to its demise in September, Nasa has been steadily sharing all of the final images captured by the satellite. As a final goodbye to Cassini, Nasa released one last photo of Saturn and its icy rings, captured by the satellite. The breath-taking image is actually a compilation of 42 shots that depicts the entire planet and all its icy rings from one end to another.
Russian astronomers announced that the Phaethon asteroid – named after the Greek demigod, who according to legend, was once allowed to ride the sun chariot, will fly past Earth on 17 December in a relatively close encounter. The massive asteroid will be accompanied by the Geminid meteor shower that is expected to light up the night sky come December.