HomeNewsIs There a Hidden ‘Planet 9’ in Our Solar System? NASA Thinks So

Is There a Hidden ‘Planet 9’ in Our Solar System? NASA Thinks So

by Michael Freeman
(Illustration by Tobias Roetsch/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Off and on for years now, scientists have speculated there may be another planet in our solar system. Recently, NASA threw its hat into the ring on the subject, saying it’s very possible it exists.

Thought to be ten times Earth’s mass, “Planet X” is supposedly just outside our telescopes’ range. Astronomers proposed long ago to explain odd orbits along our solar system’s edge. Though we’ve never directly observed it, NASA openly states it could exist and even has a page dedicated to it on its website. Saying Planet X is theoretical at this point, the organization nonetheless acknowledges it.

Jim Green, NASA’s Planetary Science Division director, expressed it’s an exciting possibility, but not a certainty. “The possibility of a new planet is certainly an exciting one for me as a planetary scientist and for all of us. This is not, however, the detection or discovery of a new planet. It’s too early to say with certainty there’s a so-called Planet X. What we’re seeing is an early prediction based on modelling from limited observations. It’s the start of a process that could lead to an exciting result.”

Proposed in 2016, not everyone believes Planet X exists though. University of Cambridge astronomers suggest something in the Kuiper Belt can explain the odd orbits. The Kuiper Belt is a region past Neptune filled with icy debris and dwarf planets. They say a huge disk there is warping objects’ orbits, not Planet X. Like the proposed planet, Cambridge scientists suggest the disk is ten times the size of Earth.

Regardless of the explanation, the possibility of another planet is very exciting.

NASA May Have Discovered Life on Mars

When it comes to new space discoveries, it’s difficult to top a new planet. That being said, NASA finding life on Mars would likely top it and the organization may have just done it.

While reviewing rocks the Curiosity rover collected on Mars, NASA discovered they showed signs of organic carbon. Scientists there believe the carbon originated from bugs living there. The rover retrieved rocks from six different locations and each one had a carbon cycle, with NASA saying they could have a “biological basis.” For reference, these are akin to Australian fossil samples of microbial life.

Christopher House, the Penn State University professor who led the study, told LAD Bible about the possibility earlier this week. “The samples extremely depleted in carbon 13 are a little like samples from Australia taken from sediment that was 2.7 billion years old,” he said. “Those samples were caused by biological activity when methane was consumed by ancient microbial mats. But we can’t necessarily say that on Mars because it’s a planet that may have formed out of different materials and processes than Earth.”

So, is it life on Mars or simply methane? NASA states they will continue studying the planet’s Gale Crater to uncover the answer.