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

Exoplanet Experiences up to a Trillion Lightning Strikes per Hour
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:

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
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
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
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
Juno Spacecraft Reaches Jupiter

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