The most mind-boggling scientific discoveries of 2019 include the first image of a black hole, a giant squid sighting, and an exoplanet with water vapor

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In 2019, scientists around the world pulled off some impressive feats: They imaged a supermassive black hole for the first time, debuted two treatments for the Ebola virus, and launched a spacecraft into orbit that’s powered by sunlight alone.

Over the past year, researchers have also discovered a hidden continent, captured video of a giant squid in its deep-sea habitat, and sent a probe to an asteroid 5.5 million miles from Earth.

These and other accomplishments are improving scientists’ understanding of our own biology, our planet, and the surrounding cosmos.

As a new year — and a new decade — approaches, here’s a look back at some of the most mind-boggling scientific discoveries from 2019.

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On New Year’s Day, NASA’s nuclear-powered New Horizons spacecraft flew past a mysterious, mountain-sized object 4 billion miles from Earth.

The object, called MU69, is nicknamed Arrokoth, which means “sky” in the Powhatan/Algonquian language (it was previously nicknamed Ultima Thule). It’s the most distant object humanity has ever visited.

The New Horizons probe took hundreds of photographs as it flew by the space rock at 32,200 miles per hour.

Images revealed that Arrokoth is flat like a pancake, rather than spherical in shape. The unprecedented data will likely reveal new clues about the solar system’s evolution and how planets like Earth formed, though scientists are still receiving and processing the information from the distant probe.

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Just days after New Horizons’ fly-by, China’s Chang’e-4 mission put a rover and lander on the far side of the moon — the part we can’t see from Earth.

Before Chang’e-4’s success, no country or space agency had ever touched the far side of the moon.

The name “Chang’e” is that of a mythical lunar goddess, and the “4” indicates that this is the fourth robotic mission in China’s decade-long lunar exploration program.

The rover landed in the moon’s South Pole-Aitken Basin, which is the site of a cataclysmic collision that occurred about 3.9 billion years ago. The celestial smash-up left a 1,550-mile-wide impact site that likely punched all the way through the moon’s crust. Landing the spacecraft in this crater could therefore enable scientists to study some of the moon’s most ancient rocks.

Elsewhere in the solar system, NASA scientists learned about Mars quakes, the red planet’s version of earthquakes.

NASA’s InSight lander, which touched down on Mars in November 2018, has given scientists the unprecedented ability to detect and monitor Mars quakes.

The lander’s built-in seismometer detected its first Mars …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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