Every week, new and interesting things about the known universe are revealed as scientists uncover new details about the endless space that is home to our planet Earth. This week was no different. One of the most talked about space news stories this week was perhaps the massive 2002 AJ129 space rock expected to brush Earth on 4 February.
Although Nasa has classified it a "potentially hazardous" asteroid, the chances of an actual collision are remote. This week we also learnt about China's plan to use lasers to clean up space junk. Space debris has been flying around just several hundred miles above Earth at over 17,000mph and could potentially cause damage to satellites and spacecraft. Chinese scientists want to develop a massive space-based laser station that will shoot down space junk and ensure the safety of space missions.
IBTimes UK brings you the highlights of the most interesting space news stories of the week.
This year, scientists may be able to get the first-ever peek at a black hole. Despite numerous studies to understand black holes, key details about their origin still remain a mystery – we are also yet to actually have seen what a black hole truly looks like. However, using data from the Event Horizon Telescope scientists may finally be able to create an image of a black hole located in the heart of our very own Milky Way Galaxy.
A massive invisible black hole, four times the mass of the sun, located in the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, was found hiding in a globular cluster. Astronomers found the black hole by observing the odd behaviour of a star, which they found was being "flung backwards and forwards" at several hundred thousand kilometers per hour speed, every 167 days. The researchers found that the star was orbiting the inactive black hole — causing the unusual behaviour. The new discovery means that there may be more black holes in globular clusters than previously thought.
Researchers have mapped out the surface of Saturn's largest moon Titan, which is believed to be one of the most likely candidates where extraterrestrial life might be found. The new study revealed that Titan's liquid bodies have sea levels similar to Earth. The new study revealed that despite the Earth and Titan being located a billion miles away from each other, the two are "eerily similar".
Is there life on Mars? Before even stepping foot on Mars, scientists are attempting to answer this question on Earth. In freezing temperatures of the Canadian Arctic, a place that most closely resembles the environment on the Red Planet on Earth, scientists have begun testing out new instruments to detect alien microorganisms. Researchers found that the instruments not only withstood the harsh environment but also detected microbial life in the area. The results of the research mean that these instruments could also function optimally in the harsh environment of the Red Planet and possibly even find traces of extraterrestrial life.