This week in space: 6/29 - 7/6

Exoplanet Experiences up to a Trillion Lightning Strikes per Hour

Greetings, earthlings.

With everything that happens on earth in a given week, it's easy to forget that things, indeed, are constantly happening outside our own atmosphere.

From the discovery of one VERY uninhabitable planet to NASA sending a spacecraft to Jupiter, here's everything important that happened in space last week.

5. Exoplanet that gets hit by up to a trillion lightning strikes per hour discovered

It's electric! No, but actually ...

Astronomers have long been searching for a planet that is both Earth-like and habitable.

Based on recent estimates made by a team from the University of St Andrews, U.K., Kepler-10b most certainly does not qualify.

The incredibly hot planet is believed to experience up to a trillion lightning strikes per hour.

To put that in perspective, Earth gets struck by lightning approximately 100 times per second.

That means our planet gets struck a mere 360,000 per hour -- and THIS number is one trillion: 1,000,000,000,000.

As if that wasn't horrifying enough, the entire place is likely covered in volcanoes that erupt incredibly frequently, if not constantly.

Check out some more notable discoveries made by NASA's Kepler telescope:

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope
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NASA's Kepler Space Telescope
NASA's Kepler spacecraft. (Photo via NASA)
This artist's concept compares Earth (left) to the new planet, called Kepler-452b, which is about 60 percent larger in diameter. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)
This artist's concept depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of star that is similar to our sun. The habitable zone is a region around a star where temperatures are right for water -- an essential ingredient for life as we know it -- to pool on the surface. Scientists do not know if Kepler-452b can support life or not. What is known about the planet is that it is about 60 percent larger than Earth, placing it in a class of planets dubbed "super-Earths." While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a better than even chance of being rocky. Kepler-452b orbits its star every 385 days. The planet's star is about 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. It is a G2-type star like our sun, with nearly the same temperature and mass. This star is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun. As stars age, they grow in size and give out more energy, warming up their planets over time. (Photo via NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)
Highlighted are new planet candidates from the seventh Kepler planet candidate catalog that are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in the stars' habitable zone—the range of distances from a star where liquid water could exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. The dark green area represents an optimistic estimate for the habitable zone, while the light green area represents a more conservative estimate for the habitable zone. The candidates are plotted as a function of the star's surface temperate on the vertical axis and by the amount of energy the planet candidate receives by its host star. Open yellow circles show new planet candidates in the seventh catalog. Open blue circles show candidates from previous catalogs. Filled-in circles represent candidates that have been confirmed as planets due to follow-up observations. Note that the new candidates tend to be around stars more similar to the sun, representing progress in finding planets that are similar to the Earth in size and temperature that orbit sun-like stars. (Photo via NASA Ames/W. Stenzel)
The sweep of NASA Kepler mission’s search for small, habitable planets in the last six years. The first planet smaller than Earth, Kepler-20e, was discovered in December 2011 orbiting a Sun-like star slightly cooler and smaller than our sun every six days. But it is scorching hot and unable to maintain an atmosphere or a liquid water ocean. Kepler-22b was announced in the same month, as the first planet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star, but is more than twice the size of Earth and therefore unlikely to have a solid surface. Kepler-186f was discovered in April 2014 and is the first Earth-size planet found in the habitable zone of a small, cool M dwarf about half the size and mass of our sun. Kepler-452b is the first near-Earth-Size planet in the habitable zone of a star very similar to the sun. (Photo via NASA Ames/W. Stenzel)
This size and scale of the Kepler-452 system compared alongside the Kepler-186 system and the solar system. Kepler-186 is a miniature solar system that would fit entirely inside the orbit of Mercury. The habitable zone of Kepler-186 is very small compared to that of Kepler-452 or the sun because it is a much smaller, cooler star. The size and extent of the habitable zone of Kepler-452 is nearly the same as that of the sun, but is slightly bigger because Kepler-452 is somewhat older, bigger and brighter. The size of the orbit of Kepler-452b is nearly the same as that of the Earth at 1.05 AU. Kepler-452b orbits its star once every 385 days. (Photo via NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt)
IN SPACE - UNSPECIFIED: In this handout illustration made available on December 5, 2011 by NASA, the Kepler-22b, a planet known to comfortably circle in the habitable zone of a sun-like star is digitally illustrated. For the first time NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed a planet to orbit in a star's habitable zone; the region around a star, where liquid water, a requirement for life on Earth, could persist. The planet is 2.4 times the size of Earth, making it the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habit. Clouds could exist in this earth's atmosphere, as the artist's interpretive illustration depicts. (Photo Illustration by Ames/JPL-Caltech/NASA via Getty Images)
IN SPACE - UNSPECIFIED: In this handout illustration made available on December 5, 2011 by NASA, a diagram compares our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first 'habitable zone' planet discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. The habitable zone is the sweet spot around a star where temperatures are right for water to exist in its liquid form. Liquid water is essential for life on Earth. The diagram displays an artist's rendering of the planet comfortably orbiting within the habitable zone, similar to where Earth circles the sun. Kepler-22b has a yearly orbit of 289 days. The planet is the smallest known to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a sun-like star and is about 2.4 times the size of Earth. (Photo Illustration by Ames/JPL-Caltech/NASA via Getty Images)
IN SPACE, UNSPECIFIED: In this handout digital illustration released on September 15, 2011 by NASA, the newly-discovered gaseous planet Kepler-16b orbits it's two stars. NASA's Kepler Mission discoverd the world orbiting two Stars, the larger a K dwarf and the smaller a red dwarf. (Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt via Getty Images)
IN SPACE, UNSPECIFIED: In this handout digital illustration released on September 15, 2011 by NASA, the newly-discovered gaseous planet Kepler-16b orbits it's two stars. NASA's Kepler Mission discoverd the world orbiting two Stars, the larger a K dwarf and the smaller a red dwarf. (Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle via Getty Images)
The graphic tells NASA's Kepler spacecraft's story by the numbers from the moment it began hunting for planets outside our solar system on May 12, 2009. From the trove of data collected, we have learned that planets are common, that most sun-like stars have at least one planet and that nature makes planets with unimaginable diversity. (Photo via NASA Ames/W Stenzel)
(Photo via NASA Ames/W. Stenzel)

4. The Hubble telescope captured some stunning auroras on Jupiter

Jupiter, we can see your halo.

Astronomers taking advantage of the Hubble Space Telescope's ultraviolet capabilities recently released a stunning image of auroras swirling over the gas giant.

The bright and lively features appear near the poles when highly energized matter comes into contact with gas atoms.

Researchers are currently studying how these auroras are affected by solar wind, which is packed with charged particles.

Jonathan Nichols, the team's lead researcher, said of the auroras, "It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a firework party for the imminent arrival of Juno."

Alright, settle down there.

Hubble Telescope Captures Stunning Auroras on Jupiter

3. NASA's Curiosity rover discovered a new type of sand dune on Mars

Just like Earth, Mars has vast expanses of rippled sand -- and thanks to the tireless work of NASA's rover Curiosity, a never-before-seen type of dune has been discovered.

"Earth and Mars both have big sand dunes and small sand ripples," said Mathieu Lapotre, one of the collaborators for the Curiosity mission. "But on Mars, there's something in between that we don't have on Earth."

Such land formations, called impact ripples, generally occur as wind blows particles across the land, causing them to collide with one another and form peaks and rifts.

However, Lapotre noted, "As Curiosity was approaching the Bagnold Dunes, we started seeing that the crest lines of the...ripples are sinuous. That is not like impact ripples, but it is just like sand ripples that form under moving water on Earth."

All of this suggests that Mars once had a much thicker atmosphere, and ripples dating back to that time may provide insights into how it thinned over the eons.


Curiosity Discovers a New Type of Sand Dune on Mars

2. China is set to start hunting for alien life with their new giant telescope

And boy, do we mean GIANT.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is the size of 30 football fields and has been hewed out of a mountain in the southwestern province of Guizhou.

Scientists will now start debugging and running trials of the telescope, Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the official Xinhua news agency.

"The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life," the report paraphrased Zheng as saying.

The 1.2-billion yuan ($180 million) radio telescope, which has taken about five years to build, is expected to begin operations as early as September ... that's only slightly terrifying.

China to hunt for alien life with giant telescope

1. Success! NASA's Juno spacecraft made it to Jupiter

NASA has boldly gone where no man has ever gone before -- as it tends to do.

At 8:53 pm Pacific on July 4, the Juno spacecraft successfully cartwheeled into orbit around Jupiter, officially beginning the mission to further understand the mysterious gas giant.

Juno now embarks on a two-year mission to find out whether or not Jupiter has a solid core and to detect how much water is present there.

The data sent back from Juno will not only tell us more about how the giant planet was created, but it will ultimately give us more answers about how our own planet formed.

Of course, no matter the intense nature of this mission, NASA still took to Twitter to be sassy as all get out about it.

Juno Spacecraft Reaches Jupiter

That's all for now, have an interstellar week!

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