Alien life in space
In its constant search of alien life in space, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in September obtained the first definitive signs of liquid water (briny) flowing intermittently on the surface of the Red Planet. The discovery hints towards a full-fledged life that may have sustained on the Red Planet in the past.


Water on mars

"There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars," Michael Meyer, lead scientist of NASA's Mars exploration programme, said in a statement. In December, Curiosity found mysterious rocks rich in silica - a rock-forming chemical combining the elements silicon and oxygen and commonly seen on Earth as quartz - bolstering the presence of water on the Martian surface.


New member of human species

In September, the world woke up to welcome a new member of the human species that globally made the home pages of all top publications. Homo naledi - a broad-chested fellow who walked upright and had a face with a smile that was probably more human than ape-like years ago - was uniquely adapted for both tree climbing and walking as dominant forms of movement, while also being capable of precise manual manipulation.


Treasure trove to Earth

In the middle of the year, two big events grabbed the eyeballs. First, NASA's New Horizons probe - after travelling over 4.8 billion km -flew past the mysterious Pluto dwarf planet on July 14. Since then, the mission has been beaming a Pluto "treasure trove" to Earth.


Kuiper Belt object
After its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system, NASA has selected the next potential destination for its New Horizons mission - a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.


Habitable zone around Sun-like star
Later in July, NASA's Kepler mission confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the 'habitable zone' around a Sun-like star. The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone - the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet -- of a G2-type star, like our Sun.


ISS turned 15
The International Space Station (ISS), with humans on board, turned 15 in November, enabling research breakthroughs and driving technology innovations that will provide benefits on the Earth and enable long-duration human and robotic exploration missions into deep space, including Mars.


Flowers blooming on Orbit
After having a sumptuous feast of 'Outredgeous' red romaine lettuce grown in space in August, ISS astronauts were set to witness flowers blooming on the orbiting laboratory after the New Year.

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