Unexplainable podcast: 7 mysteries of the solar system that scientists haven’t solved yet

Subsequent time you have a look at a vivid full moon, take into consideration this: Nobody is aware of, exactly, the place the moon got here from.

“We do not know why the moon is right here,” says science author Rebecca Boyle. unexplainable – The Vox podcast that explores the large mysteries, unanswered questions and all issues we Study by diving into the unknown. “I believe lots of people [the moon] Taken without any consideration, it is this sort of boring stuff, and galaxies and nebulae and stars and planets are extra fascinating.”

It is true that a number of the epic questions in science exist within the furthest reaches of area – how and when the primary galaxies fashioned, what occurs inside a black gap – but in addition epic questions are right here in our celestial neighbourhood, in our personal. personal photo voltaic system.

To discover our photo voltaic system – the moons and planets in it – is to raised perceive what is feasible within the farthest reaches of the universe. Something we discover or uncover in our cosmic yard will assist us perceive what is feasible within the bigger universe. If proof of historical life is present in a hostile world like Mars, we might higher perceive how widespread life may be in different photo voltaic methods. If we perceive how a world that will have been as vibrant as Venus fell into break, we would perceive how usually related planets round different stars die on the finish of the world.

Essentially the most provocative mysteries of the photo voltaic system assist us perceive why we’re right here, how lengthy we would have, and what we would go away behind. Listed below are a number of the mysteries of the photo voltaic system that we encountered unexplainable.

For extra puzzles, pay attention and comply with unexplainable Wherever you might be listening to podcasts.

What killed Venus?

The clouds of Venus had been captured in 1974 by NASA’s Mariner 10 spacecraft.

“Hellscape” is probably the most acceptable phrase to explain the floor of Venus, the second planet from the Solar. At 900 levels Fahrenheit, it is the most well liked planet within the photo voltaic system, because of an environment made nearly completely of carbon dioxide, producing a robust greenhouse impact. Clouds of extremely corrosive sulfuric acid are blanketed over a volcanic area of very sharp igneous rock. The stress on Venus’ floor is about 92 instances what you’re feeling at sea stage on Earth.

Nevertheless, some scientists suspect that Venus as soon as resembled Earth, with a liquid water ocean just like the one which helps life on our planet. This prompts an existential query about life on Earth.

Robin George Andrews, volcanologist and writer of “Venus and Earth are Planetary Brothers” Big volcanoes: What they reveal about Earth and the worlds past. “It was made on the similar time and fabricated from the identical issues, but the flower is horrible and terrifying in each doable manner. The earth is a paradise. So why do we have now a paradise beside a misplaced paradise?”

There are two primary hypotheses. One is that the solar cooked Venus to demise. The opposite is that volcanoes have executed it.

In-depth studying: The flower may have been heaven but it surely changed into hell. Earthlings, be careful.

The place did the moon come from?

This view from the Apollo 11 spacecraft exhibits Earth rising above the moon’s horizon.
HUM Photos / International Picture Assortment

Earlier than the moon went down, scientists thought they knew how the moon was fashioned. The prevailing principle was that they fashioned very very similar to planets: bits of fabric left over from the Solar’s formation, clump collectively. However then, Apollo astronauts introduced again samples from the lunar floor, and people rocks informed a wholly totally different story.

“Geologists have found that the moon is roofed with a particular kind of rock known as anorthosite,” unexplainable Senior Producer Meredith Hudenot explains on the present. “Shining, vivid, and reflective, that is the rock that makes the moon shine white within the evening sky. On the time, it was thought that this rock may solely be fashioned in a really particular manner. Magma.”

However the magma meant that the moon will need to have fashioned in some form of epic disaster. “One thing that pumped a lot power into the moon that it actually melted,” Hoddinott says. Scientists aren’t fairly positive how all this occurred. However every situation is a cinematic story of fiery horrible proportions.

In-depth studying: How Apollo moon rocks reveal the epic historical past of the universe

Is there something alive in human waste left on the moon?

An astronaut’s litter bag was left on the moon in 1969.

Through the Apollo moon missions, astronauts went to the moon and, to avoid wasting weight when returning to Earth, threw their trash behind. On the entire Apollo missions, astronauts left 96 luggage of human waste on the moon, they usually ask an interesting astronomical very important query.

Human excrement – particularly faeces – is teeming with microbial life. With the Apollo moon touchdown, we took microbial life on Earth to probably the most excessive setting it is ever been in. Which signifies that waste on the Moon is a pure, albeit unintended, expertise.

The query that have can reply: How resilient is life within the face of the monstrous setting of the moon? On this regard, if microbes can survive on the moon, can they survive between planets or? interstellar journey? In the event that they handle to outlive, maybe life may unfold from planet to planet, using on the backs of asteroids or different area particles.

In-depth studying: Apollo astronauts left their tube on the moon. We’ve to return to this nonsense.

Was there a sophisticated civilization on Earth earlier than people?

Illustration of the Gondwana supercontinent, a land mass that fashioned fully about 550 million years in the past and started to disintegrate about 180 million years in the past.
Science Picture Libra / Getty Photos

Many scientists have all the time questioned: Is there clever life within the depths of area? However local weather scientist Gavin Schmidt and astrophysicist Adam Frank have a special query: Was there clever life deep in Earth’s historical past? Can we discover proof of a sophisticated non-human civilization that lived maybe tons of of hundreds of thousands of years in the past, buried within the Earth’s crust?

This is not strictly a “photo voltaic system” thriller, however it’s of a cosmic scale. In essence, Schmidt and Frank marvel: How seemingly is it that an clever type of life on any planet – right here or within the deepest depths of area – would go away a mark, an indication of their existence? And on this regard: tons of of hundreds of thousands of years from now, will a number of the area explorers who’ve landed on Earth have the ability to discover human footprints if we go far or away?

In-depth studying: Silurian speculation: Can an industrial civilization be detected within the geological document?

Can we push an asteroid out of its collision course with Earth?

What if?
Tobias Roach/Future Publishing/Getty Photos

Many disasters – volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes – are inevitable. Scientists speak about when, not whether or not they may strike. Though people make some disasters worse, pure disasters have been occurring lengthy earlier than we had been right here. It’s a truth of life on Earth. However one kind of disaster does not must be inevitable: a collision between an asteroid or comet and Earth.

The issue is: We have by no means tried to distract an asteroid, and we do not know if a plan to take action will work.

To assist reply that query, final yr NASA launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Take a look at (DART), a car-sized field with photo voltaic panels. It’s at present on its technique to a 160-meter-high asteroid known as Dimorphos. Within the fall, DART will smash into Dimorphos at 24,000 kilometers per hour (about 15,000 miles per hour) in pursuit of an enormous query: May the collision push the asteroid right into a barely totally different orbit?

In-depth studying: The search to keep away from an asteroid catastrophe goes surprisingly effectively

Was there life on Mars?

Perseverance rover takes a selfie on Mars.
NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

Mars as we speak is a desert, devoid of any seen indicators of life. However through the years, scientists have found proof of Mars misplaced, way back, that will have regarded rather a lot like Earth.

“Mars is a really totally different place as we speak than it was 4 billion years in the past, however you’ll be able to see proof of what it was like,” mentioned NASA astrobiologist Lindsey Hayes. “You see issues just like the stays of an enormous river delta, which signifies not solely the circulation of water, however you seemingly had a number of water flowing over a protracted time frame that continued to deposit sediment.”

And the place there was water, there may have been life. Final yr, a brand new rover landed on Mars, and that is our greatest likelihood to reply the query “Has there ever been life on Mars?” If the reply is “sure,” it may change our understanding of how widespread life is within the universe.

The unexplainable An episode on Mars airs June twenty second.

In-depth studying: NASA’s newest probe is our greatest likelihood but to seek out life on Mars

Is there an actual ninth planet lurking in the dead of night?

Pluto July 13

Sorry, Pluto, there could also be a brand new ninth planet.

In 2006, the Worldwide Astronomical Union voted to vary the definition of what constitutes a planet, and Pluto didn’t. There are now not 9 official planets within the photo voltaic system, however eight.

However then “we began getting these hints that one thing else truly existed — and an actual big planet we predict nonetheless lurks removed from Neptune, ready to be discovered,” says astronomer Mike Brown. unexplainable. Astronomers haven’t but found this planet, however they doubt its existence: different distant objects within the photo voltaic system appear to have been affected by its gravity.

May these hints lead us to an actual new ninth planet? Can. However it is going to be troublesome to seek out.

“It is form of like taking slightly black sand grain and throwing it on the seaside,” Brown says of the analysis course of. “It might be a bit troublesome to seek out that within the sea among the many remainder of them. And that’s the drawback of Planet 9.”

In-depth studying: Looking for Planet 9

You probably have concepts for subjects for future exhibits, ship us an electronic mail at unexplainable@vox.com.