4 Lesser-known Space Discoveries of 2019

4 Lesser-known Space Discoveries of 2019

4 Lesser-known Space Discoveries of 2019
Image Credits: WMTW

2019 has been an excellent year for space discoveries as we gathered unimaginable cosmic facts about the universe. A few of these achievements, like the image of a black hole, got a lot of limelight. On the other hand, there are some space discoveries of 2019 that didn’t get their due share of appreciation. In this article, we will discuss some of these lesser-known space discoveries of 2019.

New King of Moons

New King of Moons - Space Discoveries of 2019

Jupiter held the record for the most moons for more than two decades until Saturn dethroned it in October 2019. Researchers used the Subaru Telescope to confirm 20 new moons around the planet. This takes the total number of known natural satellites around Saturn to 82 (Jupiter has 79).

Astronomers found that 17 out of these new moons are retrograde. This means that their direction of movement is opposite to that of the planet. The diameter of each of these moons is about 5 kilometers and they take more than 3 years to complete an orbit. Following this discovery, scientists are hopeful that these natural satellites will be helpful in understanding the formation of Saturn.

LightSail 2 (Solar Sail)

LightSail 2 (Solar Sail) - Space Discoveries of 2019

The solar sail is a reflective structure that allows a spacecraft to move across space due to the thrust provided by solar photons. On 25th June 2019, the Planetary Society launched LightSail2, a solar-sail-propelled satellite, into space. After reaching a stable orbit around Earth, this satellite deployed its solar sail on 23rd July.

The researchers observed that the LightSail 2 took just 8 days to move 2 kilometers in its orbit. According to the researching team, it was only possible due to the thrust from the Sun. This declaration makes LightSail 2 the only solar sail spacecraft orbiting around Earth.

Given the potential of this technology, scientists are planning to use it for interstellar missions. One such research program, called Breakthrough Starshot, aims to reach the Alpha Centauri in a few decades. For achieving this goal, a solar sail spacecraft will be launched at a fraction of the speed of light.  

Wine Can Prevent Muscle Loss in Space

Wine Can Prevent Muscle Loss in Space

Spending a few weeks in space can cause some serious damage (due to weightlessness) to the muscle mass of astronauts. Considering the extended duration of future space missions, it is necessary to find a viable solution to this problem. In an attempt to do so, scientists from Harvard University have come up with one of the most astonishing space discoveries of 2019.

They have figured out that red wine can be used to prevent loss of muscle mass in humans. Basically, wine contains an antioxidant (resveratrol) that can give the desired results. Other than the wine, this chemical is also present in chocolate.


The researchers performed an experiment on rats to verify the effects of resveratrol on muscle and bone mass. They simulated the low gravity of Mars and suspended some rats in that environment. Few of these rats were given a small quantity of resveratrol regularly.

After two weeks, the muscle mass of all the rats was analyzed. It was found that the rats having the antioxidant hadn’t lost much of their muscle mass. In contrast to that, the rats who were not given resveratrol had suffered significant muscle atrophy.

According to these scientists, the anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol allows it to preserve health in weightlessness. Nowadays, they are trying to determine the quantity of the compound that will keep an astronaut in good shape.   

The First Interstellar Comet

The First Interstellar Comet

Oumuamua is the first interstellar object that was observed in our Solar System (2017). In 2019, astronomers discovered another interstellar object. It is one of the biggest space discoveries of 2019 because it actually was a comet from another star system. Gennady Borisov was the first man to view this comet at an observatory in Crimea. That is the reason why this comet was named as 2I/Borisov.

Soon after his announcement, both NASA and the ESA studied the interstellar comet to determine its properties. It was found that it is pretty similar to the comets of our Solar System. 2I/Borisov has an icy core that is surrounded by a cloud of dust and gas. A detailed analysis revealed that the diameter of its nucleus is around 1 kilometer.

This interstellar comet came closest to our planet on the 28th of December. According to an estimate, it was around 290 million kilometers away from Earth at that moment. Astronomers predict that the comet will either fly out of our Solar System or it will disintegrate as it approaches the Sun.   

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