This week in space: 7/20 - 7/27
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 a very worrisome earthquake study to an extraterrestrial optical illusion, here's everything important that happened in space last week.
4. Saturn appeared in it's first viral optical illusion
It appears as though something freaky might have happened to Saturn.
NASA recently released some odd images taken from the Cassini spacecraft that has planet-watchers scratching their heads.
The stunning, high-resolution photos seemed to show two of Saturn's rings bending at a sharp angle as they neared the planet -- but rest assured, space enthusiasts, nothing terrible happened to the sixth planet's icy halos.
A press release issued by the agency revealed that the bizarre warping of the A and F rings in the photos was simply an extraterrestrial optical illusion.
"In its upper regions, Saturn's atmosphere absorbs some of the light reflected by the rings as it passes through," NASA said in a statement. "But absorption is not the only thing that happens to that light. As it passes from space to the atmosphere and back out into space towards Cassini's cameras, its path is refracted, or bent. The result is that the ring's image appears warped."
Now all we have to wonder is, is Earth the first planet where these photos have gone viral ... or did someone else beat us to it?
3. The origin of the moon's giant crater was revealed
One of the biggest visible craters on the moon, the "imbrue basin," is so massive that it is visible from Earth by the naked eye.
Granted, the crater stretches across 750 miles -- but the moon is also a whopping 238,900 miles away.
So ... where did such a massive beauty mark come from?
Scientists from NASA and Brown University said the basin formed roughly 3.6 billion years ago after a HUGE object smashed into it. This object is described as a protoplanet.
A protoplanet is simply a large body of matter in orbit around the sun, or a star thought to be developing into a planet.
Researchers said the object must have been as big as 150 miles across, and they don't even believe the collision was head on. Due to the crater it left, they've concluded it must have hit the moon on a slant.
The study also led scientists to conclude that marks on the moon, and other planets, used to be much more common occurrences.
Think about this: humans currently do not have a plan for asteroids. If people of this generation were alive back then, even with all of modern science's advances, there definitely wouldn't have been any sort of emergency plan to put into effect...
2. NASA released a stunning time-lapse video showing an entire year on Earth as seen from space
Mother Earth is a beautiful woman, there is no doubt about that.
And NASA's Polychromatic Imaging Camera, better known as EPIC, captured some stunning footage of a full year on earth that highlights her beauty to a tee.
EPIC, which was placed approximately one million miles between the sun and Earth, has been acting as Earth's private paparazzi since July 2015.
Since then, EPIC has captured more than 3,000 incredible images of the Earth during its 365-day tour around the sun.
The result? A beautiful time-lapse sequence that has provided the first images of what an entire year on Earth looks like from space.
Take a look at the full video here in all its ethereal glory:
1. A new study showed that the sun and moon may trigger San Andreas
Experts and crazy aunts alike agree that the "big one" is coming ... and now, we know what might trigger it.
New research has found that earthquakes can be caused by the sun and moon's gravitational forces.
A recently conducted study, led by the U.S. Geological Survey, focused on the 800-mile-long San Andreas fault in southern California.
After assessing more than 80,000 tremors in the area between 2008 and 2015, the team determined that they occurred more actively during periods when the tides were becoming stronger.
According to the study, "earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault are most likely to occur during the waxing fortnightly tide—not when the tidal amplitude is highest, as might be expected, but when the tidal amplitude most exceeds its previous value."
Hopefully, this research can help lead to better earthquake prediction in the future, rather than just cause panic and mass hysteria.
That's all for now -- have a stellar week!