10 Space Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

They're truly out of this world.

Space is a very big place. While we've all studied our textbooks and memorized the order of the planets (R.I.P. Pluto) and the number of Saturn's rings (...eight?) in school, we still don't know 99.99% of the secrets our vast universe holds. But, year after year, we slowly chip away at some of the mysteries behind the stars and other strange things that float around our galaxy, like alcohol clouds and enormous galactic hurricanes. So read on, space cadets, then go outside and look up.

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The International Space Station travels at 17,150 miles per hour, orbiting Earth every 92 minutes. This means that the lucky astronauts aboard get to see the sun rise every 92 minutes—catching 16 sunrises a day.

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A recent study found that among the chemicals in the dust cloud known as Sagittarius B2, near the center of the galaxy, was ethyl formate (C3H6O2). What's ethyl formate, you might ask? It's the chemical responsible for the flavor of raspberries, and it smells like rum.

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Speaking of strange clouds, one containing ethyl alcohol was discovered in 1995 near the constellation Aquila. It's 1,000 times bigger than the diameter of our solar system, and contains enough alcohol to fill 400 trillion pints of beer. To put that in perspective, in order to drink that much, every single person on planet Earth would have to drink 300,000 pints a day, for one billion years. You bringing the chips?

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The largest water reservoir in the universe is currently floating through space, twelve billion light years away from here. In the form of a gas cloud, and several hundred light years in diameter, it holds 140 trillion times the amount of all the water in Earth's oceans combined. Water, water everywhere….

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How big is the sun, really? Well, consider this: on average, it takes a photon (an elementary particle) about 170,000 years to travel from the center to the surface of the sun. But from there, it only takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds for that same photon to leave the sun's surface and reach your eyes.

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One day on Venus is longer than one of our years. On Earth, we watch the sun rise and set in 24 hours, doing so 365 times during a full rotation around the sun. Venus, on the other hand, takes 243 Earth days to spin on its axis, but only 224.7 earth days to rotate around the sun.

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Looking to add some height? Without the pressure of gravity, your spine straightens out in space—making astronauts up to 3% taller! Hey, it all adds up.

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Neil Armstrong may have taken his small step for mankind over 46 years ago, but his footprints will still be there 100 million years from now. Without an atmosphere on the moon, there is no wind or water to erode the surface, so whatever touches down (astronauts, spacecrafts, aliens), stays imprinted for a veryyyyy long time.

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If you think the dead of winter here is bad… Neptune sinks to temperatures of -360° F and has winds that reach up to 1,340 mph. Meanwhile, the surface of Venus is about fives times as hot as boiling water, and the Great Red Spot on Jupiter is just a massive hurricane that has been tearing its way across the surface of the planet for over three centuries.

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For those of you looking for more time in the day, just wait… a few hundred years. Every century, Earth's rotation slows by about 1.4 milliseconds. In the Jurassic-era, a day lasted about 23 hours, and in 1830 it was exactly 24 hours long. Now it's off by 2.5 milliseconds. Patience is a virtue!

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