The 20 wildest space discoveries of 2019

The universe is truly incredible.

Computer-simulated image of a black hole.

This year was a busy one for space science. Scientists solved the mystery of the universe’ weirdest molecule. Voyager 2 revealed unprecedented details about the cosmos beyond our Solar System. Black holes were caught on camera. And SpaceX, NASA, and the ESA again made strides in aerospace development. We could go on, but we won’t: Inverse is counting down the top 20 wildest stories about space from 2019. You can read them all here.

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titan

20. Titan’s lakes may have been formed by exploding nitrogen bombs

Just when you thought things couldn’t get weirder on Saturn’s largest moon…

black hole m87

19. 2019 was the year a black hole broke the internet

Say “cheese,” Messier 87.

falcon 9

18. The dawn of a new era: How SpaceX upgraded its tech in 2019

SpaceX’s moves in 2019 pave the way for faster global communications.

Warped galaxy with the distribution of the young stars (Cepheids) in the disk as infered from the Galactic Cepheids distribution

17. The Milky Way is “a bit warped”

A 3D map reveals our home galaxy has an unexpected S-shape warp in it’s stellar disc.

lunar surface with metal anomaly

16. Scientists detected a metal “anomaly” deep beneath the lunar surface

It’s more likely to be from asteroids than benevolent aliens.

15. Chicxulub crater study reveals the terrible end of the dinosaurs

The Age of the Dinosaurs came to an abrupt, chaotic, and terrible end.

Starhopper

14. In praise of Starhopper, SpaceX’s little Starship that could

While SpaceX’s giant Starships capture the world’s attention today, Starhopper shouldn’t be forgotten.

Jupiter

13. Watch: Wild video captures meteor slamming into Jupiter

The impact released an amount of energy equivalent to 240 kilotons of TNT.

China was the first nation to try and cultivate life on the moon, but it didn't go so well.

12. In 2019 China brought live cotton seeds to the Moon — but none survived

The ambitious project was quickly thwarted by a cold lunar night.

Mars

11. Water may once have flowed beneath Mars’ surface

Scientists discovered the first geological evidence of groundwater on Mars.

Titan

10. Scientists mapped Titan’s awe-inspiring terrain for the first time

Liquid methane lakes, icy dunes, and labyrinthine canyons pepper the landscape of Saturn’s largest moon.

buckyballs

9. Scientists trace origin of mysterious molecules to dying stars

The weirdest molecules in the universe finally have an origin story.

falcon 9

7. SpaceX reached a momentous milestone in the race to reuse rockets

In November 2019, a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch marked three firsts for the company.

ancient human

6. How ancient cosmic explosions may have forced humans to walk upright

A wild new hypothesis links supernovae to a pivotal moment in human evolution.

NASA voyager

5. In 2019, a 42-year-old NASA mission gave unprecedented insight into our solar system

Voyager 2’s crossing into interstellar space revealed surprising new details about our small corner of the Milky Way.

SpaceX BFR/Starship leaving Earth

3. SpaceX’s Starship could take humans to Moon within next decade

The rocket may be ideally suited for manned lunar missions, according to SpaceX leadership.

tardigrade

2. Did we accidentally allow tardigrades to colonize the Moon?

These hardy microscopic creatures crash landed on the lunar surface in April 2019 — and they might still be there.

space Mars colony

1. In 2019, SpaceX took 4 giant leaps to make a human colony on Mars reality

If last year’s innovations are anything to go by, Elon Musk’s prediction of a city on Mars by 2050 may actually become a reality.

Media via NASA, Event Horizon Telescope, SpaceX, J. Skowron / OGLE, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona, DiscoveryDinosaurs/YouTube, Steve Hiebert/Shutterstock.com, jpl.nasa.gov, NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Western Ontario, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Shutterstock, nicoolay / Getty Images, Wikimedia