2019: Moments in space
With every year that passes our knowledge of the universe grows exponentially, and 2019 was no exception. The year in which we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing itself ushered in a number of notable firsts – we unlocked mysteries, traveled further and viewed the universe in more detail than ever before. As we move into 2020, here'a look back at some of our favorite moments in space from the past 12 months.
First direct images of a black hole
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping space news of the year came our way in April, when astronomers released the historic first images of a supermassive black hole's event horizon. The enormous black hole located within the large galaxy M87 was imaged by a network of powerful observatories that formed a single planet-sized virtual telescope ... Full Story.
Touchdown on the dark side of the moon
The China National Space Administration made history in January by successfully deploying its Chang'e-4 probe on the far side of the moon, a feat that has never been achieved before ... Full Story.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) confirmed in September that a strange object discovered in our solar system is unambiguously interstellar in origin. Known as 2I/Borisov, it is the first comet and only the second such object of any kind – after ‘Oumuamua in 2017 – to have been identified ... Full Story.
Water vapor detected in atmosphere of Super-Earth
In September came the exciting news that water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere of a potentially habitable exoplanet for the first time. The planet known as K2-18b orbits a red dwarf star some 110 light-years away in the constellation of Leo. It’s rocky and Earth-like, measuring 2.25 times wider and eight times more massive than our home planet. The presence of water vapor on Jupiter's moon Europa was also confirmed this year ... Full Story.
Fifty years since that One Small Step
It's half a century since Neil Armstrong took that momentous step onto the surface of the Moon, but the achievement still boggles the mind. It's an event well worth celebrating and a fascinating tale worth recounting in detail ... Full Story.
SpaceX's Starhopper soars to new heights
It seems there's never a dull moment over at SpaceX, and 2019 didn't disappoint. One of our favorites was watching the Starhopper spacecraft that the company hopes to one day send to Mars completing test hops in Texas ... Full Story.
Tardigrades touch down
Among the many items onboard Israel's ill-fated Beresheet lunar lander were thousands and thousands of tardigrades – microscopic creatures capable of surviving the harshest of conditions ... Full Story.
20 new moons discovered around Saturn
In proof that startling new discoveries don't have to be light years away, astronomers announced a bevy of new moons have been spotted around Saturn, bringing the total to a solar system-topping total of 82 ... Full Story.
Sailing on sunlight
In a landmark moment for the future of space exploration, the Planetary Society's LightSail 2 cubesat successfully unfurled its solar sail in July and began surfing through space on the power of the Sun ... Full Story.
That's just a small sample of the many significant space news stories we've covered this year – we'd love to hear about your favorite space stories from 2019 in the comments below.