Though people today don’t have nearly the same fervor they did back during the space race in the 1960s, the truth is that now is one of the best times for space exploration. With technology on the rise and some predicting a near future full of significant space exploration, science fiction is constantly becoming more and more like reality. Of course, while some of us are still hung up on Pluto no longer being a planet, others are just looking forward to all the incredible things happening in space right now. Here are 5 of the highlights.
Though this is not something that is really happening right now, NASA (just this year) has come to believe that ancient Mars did actually have freshwater on its surface. Using data gathered by their Curiosity Rover, they have been able to discover what appears to be a series of these lakes. This information is truly significant because it means that Mars, at one time, did support life. What might have changed is still a great question, but some scientists believe this could be a great start for efforts to move beyond Earth. If that is encouraging enough, scientists also discovered a huge slab of ice beneath this red planet, suggesting snowfall sometime in the distant past.
Another development that happened this year is the first up-close look at Pluto. It seems that Disney had a head start on the matter, as many found the image to show their favorite dog companion. Of course, the significance of this is not just the fact that people got to see Pluto up close, but also that the New Horizons probe is now journeying out beyond our solar system to explore even more. It is expected to reach its next destination at an object in the Kuiper belt early 2019, but who knows if technology won’t surpass it before then and offer a faster method of exploration?
Space mining may sound like something straight out of science fiction, but the reality is that some companies are actually looking at it as a viable option for the near future. This type of technology is already in the works and could mean that space mineral resources are closer than we might think. Say goodbye to science fiction and hello to science fact.
Perhaps most significant of all the things happening in space now is the reality that so many private companies are joining the marketplace and creating new competition. With NASA hurting for funding, it is unlikely that it will really be able to lead some of the most significant missions required. Instead, these private companies can compete with their own innovations and help advance space technology more quickly. Sure, this is happening on Earth, but its impact on space is absolutely incredible.