Biggest space explorations, innovations of 2016

Katherine Biek

Space exploration in 2016 was both enlightening and a little strange.

Researchers looked back in time and measured a galaxy that existed more than 13 billion years ago, finished building the largest space telescope and attached the first inflatable habitat to the International Space Station.

Related: NASA's best photos of 2016

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They concluded that Mercury is most likely shrinking.

And speaking of planets, NASA's Kepler mission found 1,284 new ones.

Fifty-six-year-old astronaut Peggy Whitson became the oldest woman to orbit Earth.

While Jeff Williams is now the American record-holder for the most days spent in space with 534.

Now for the slightly strange — researchers tried and failed to find evidence of an alien civilization within the Hercules constellation.

More from Newsy: A Japanese Spacecraft Could Make Space A Little Cleaner

Elon Musk unveiled plans for a new rocket engine, which will shuttle people to the new colony he wants to build on Mars. A plan that's getting two thumbs up from President Obama.

But if Mars isn't your thing, Asgardia is another option. More than half a million people have already signed up to one day live in this new nation-state in space.

Just don't expect Thor to be your next door neighbor. He lives on Asgard, not Asgardia.