Zee Media Bureau
2015 has been an exceptionally exciting year in space, with NASA making back to back announcements about their new discoveries while providing a deeper insight into the worlds beyond our planet Earth.
2015 could also be called as the ‘Year of Pluto’ as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft revealed the icy dwarf world and its moons in stunning details.
Of the many significant breakthroughs, here’s a list of the top five amazing space discoveries of 2015:
Dawn at Ceres
Earlier in February, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft captured the closest-ever images of Ceres - the best close-ups astronomers have ever captured of the dwarf planet.
Read full story here: NASA's Dawn spacecraft clicks closest ever picture of dwarf planet
Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres - celestial bodies believed to have accreted early in the history of the solar system - in March 2015. Dawn is the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet and the first to orbit two distinct targets in our solar system. During its nearly decade-long mission, Dawn will study the two most-massive protoplanets of the asteroid belt: Vesta and Ceres.
Read full story here: NASA spacecraft creates history, enters dwarf planet's orbit
The discoveries of mysterious bright spots and giant pyramid are some of the unique findings even as the spacecraft continues to amaze, yet puzzle scientists with its tantalizing views and other data about the planet.
Click to read full story here: After mysterious bright spots, giant 'pyramid' spotted on dwarf planet Ceres
New Horizons to Pluto
On July 14, 2015, New Horizons spacecraft made its closest shave with the icy planet Pluto, coming within 7,800 miles of the planet's surface.
Read full story here: Watch: NASA's New Horizons spacecraft makes historic flyby of Pluto
Since then, the NASA’s probe has revealed a wide range of findings about the planet system while sending back many fascinating images of the icy planet's moons, majestic mountains, frozen plains and foggy hazes, besides other science data.
Having completed its flyby of Pluto, New Horizons has maneuvered for a flyby of Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, scheduled to take place on January 1, 2019.
Read more about it here: NASA's New Horizons' next mission – Explore the Kuiper Belt
Earlier in 2015, NASA scientists discovered the exoplanet Kepler-452b, which was described as 'earth's cousin' because of its close similarities to our planet.
Read full story here: NASA’s Kepler mission confirms first Earth-sized planet around sun-like star
The breakthrough discovery was made by Kepler Space Telescope, which has found more than half of all known exoplanets to date.
Water on Mars
In September 2015, scientists have for the first time confirmed liquid water flowing on the surface of the present-day Mars, raising speculation about the possibility of some form of life being discovered on the Red Planet.
Read full story here: There's strong evidence of liquid water on Mars, says NASA
Strong evidence for seasonal flows of liquid salty water was detected by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been examining the Red Planet since 2006 with its six science instruments.
New changes in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot
Recently, new imagery from NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope revealed details never before seen on Jupiter - an elusive wave and changes to the planet’s Great Red Spot. The new images revealed a rare wave just north of the planet’s equator and a unique filamentary feature in the core of the Great Red Spot not seen previously.
Read full story here: New changes in Jupiter's 'Great Red Spot' captured
Stunning Hubble images
Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has made some of the most dramatic discoveries in the history of astronomy. This year, the large silver telescope delivered some stunning images of celestial objects, including the famous galaxy Messier 63 or the Sunflower Galaxy and remnants of Veil Nebula.
Click to read full story here: Look: Incredible picture of Sunflower Galaxy from Hubble
Also Read: Hubble zooms in on remnants of Veil Nebula