NASA finds planet that could sustain life

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by LETHALFORCE, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    NASA finds planet that could sustain life – USATODAY.com

    WASHINGTON – NASA has found a new planet outside our solar system that's eerily similar to Earth in key aspects.

    Scientists say the temperature on the surface of the planet is about a comfy 72 degrees. Its star could almost be a twin of our sun. It likely has water and land.
    It was found in the middle of the habitable zone, making it the best potential target for life yet.
    The discovery announced Monday was made by NASA's Kepler planet-hunting telescope. This is the first time Kepler confirmed a planet outside our solar system in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold habitable zone.
    Twice before astronomers have announced a planet found in that zone, but neither was as promising. One was later disputed; the other is on the hot edge of the zone.
     
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  3. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Newest alien planet is just the right temperature for life - The Washington Post

    Newest alien planet is just the right temperature for life

    The search for Earth-like planets circling other stars is heating up, but the latest discovery is not too hot at all. It’s not too cold, either. Instead, the temperature on the newly announced planet Kepler-22b could be just right for life — about 72 degrees, a perfect spring day on Earth.

    Spied by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, Kepler-22b marks the best candidate yet for a life-bearing world beyond our solar system, project scientists said Monday.

    “If it has a surface, it ought to have a nice temperature,” said Kepler’s lead scientist, Bill Borucki, during a teleconference Monday.

    “It’s right in the middle of the habitable zone,” said Natalie Batahla, a Kepler scientist, referring to the narrow, balmy band of space around any star where water can be liquid. “The other exciting thing is that it orbits a star very, very similar to our own sun.”

    The actual temperature on Kepler-22b hinges on whether the planet has an atmosphere, which, like a blanket, would warm the surface. Even without an atmosphere, Borucki said, the planet would likely be warm enough to host liquid water on its surface.

    It if has a surface.

    At 2.4 times wider than Earth, the composition of Kepler-22b is a puzzle. It could be rocky, a “super-Earth” much like our own planet but bigger. It might also be a water world covered with deep oceans, said Dimitar Sasselov, a Kepler scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Or it could be gaseous, like Neptune or Uranus.

    Determining the planet’s composition rests in part on measuring its mass, how heavy it is. The Kepler telescope is unable to make this measurement, but ground-based telescopes can by watching the planet tugging on its star. Telescopes in Hawaii and elsewhere will attempt these measurements when the star comes into view next summer, Borucki said.

    Besides its balmy temperature, Kepler-22b shares other intriguing similarities with Earth. The planet’s home star, some 600 light years distant and near the constellation Cygnus, is “almost a solar twin,” Batahla said. That means the light hitting the planet’s surface would be almost the same color as the light hitting Earth. And Kepler-22b’s year is almost the same length as an Earth year: 290 days instead of 365.

    Finding Kepler-22b required a bit of luck. The Kepler telescope first spied the planet crossing the face of its star just days after the telescope became operational in 2009, Borucki said. As Kepler kept staring, it witnessed two more crossings, one of which occurred just days before the telescope was set to go offline for a few weeks. The third crossing happened just before Christmas last year.

    “It’s a great gift,” said Borucki. “We consider it our sort of Christmas planet.”

    Kepler scientists say Kepler-22b is a better candidate for a life-bearing world than a planet announced by a rival European planet-hunting project in September. Called HD85512b, that planet circles an orange star smaller and cooler than our sun. But the planet hugs the outer edge of the habitable zone, meaning any water there might be ice.

    The announcement of Kepler-22b has amped up excitement among scientists searching for Earth-like planets orbiting sun-like stars, the goal of the $600 million Kepler mission, which launched into Earth orbit in 2009. This week, Kepler scientists are meeting at NASA’s Ames Research Center to review the mission’s successes.

    They are legion. By staring at 150,000 stars, Kepler has found 2,326 “candidate planets.” Most are huge gas giants like Jupiter. But 207 of the candidates would be similar in size to Earth. Of those, 10 hold special interest — like Kepler-22b, they orbit their stars in the habitable zone. Follow-up observations are underway to determine whether these 10 candidates are true planets or false signals.

    Said Batahla: “We are getting really close, we are really homing in on the true Earth-sized habitable planets.”

    If any aliens happen to be broadcasting powerful radio signals from Kepler-22b, we’ll hear them soon, said Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif. The SETI project suspended operations this summer after running out of cash, but it restarted Monday morning, Tarter said. The project’s 42 radio telescopes are now scanning Kepler-22b and other Kepler finds.

    “We won’t know if they’re there unless we look,” Tarter said before referencing the 1997 film “Contact.” Jodie Foster played the role of Tarter in the movie, listening to stars that have “just right” planets circling them before striking the alien jackpot. “Just like Jodie Foster ... in ‘Contact,’ we will give higher priority to planets that our colleagues tell us are not too warm, not too cold, but just right.”
     
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  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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  5. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Unlike how scifi would have us believe we cant just land on any alien planet and start living even if the planet has oxygen, water and right temperature.

    mass, gravity, microscopic organisms that already exist on the planet would be dangerous to us and if people settle there then they'll evolve differently than humans on earth and over time would become different.
     
  6. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    In the future things might have progressed and space travel maybe a lot faster?? Either way it confirms there are planets in other solar systems in the goldilocks zone.
     
  7. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Even if we travel at speed of light it would take thousands of years :laugh:

    Alternatively if we travel at speed of light then theoretically time would stop itself!
     
  8. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Astronomers find planet in the “Goldilocks” zone | SciGuy | a Chron.com blog

    Astronomers find planet in the “Goldilocks” zone


    For life as we know it to exist elsewhere in the galaxy scientists posit the need for several key ingredients, such as a planet, energy and the building blocks of life.

    One of the most important ingredients, however, is water in its liquid form.

    Now, in a new batch of data released, NASA’s Kepler mission has announced the discovery of its first planet in the “habitable zone,” also known as the Goldilocks zone, the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface.

    Not too hot, not too cold.

    Further observations made by astronomers at the University of Texas have confirmed Kepler-22b as a planet and not some other feature observed by Kepler.

    Among the 1,000 new planet candidates announced, 10 are near the size of Earth and located in a habitable zone around their stars. Of most interest to astronomers is Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found in a habitable zone.

    It’s about 2.4 times larger than Earth, and scientists do not yet know if it has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition.

    The other striking thing about the new data released is simply how common Earth-like worlds are. Scientists have now identified 2,326 planet candidates, and of these 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are super Earth-size.

    So many worlds. How I’d love to go to one.
     
  9. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    maybe they will freeze people(cryogenics) and unfreeze them or send frozen embryos with robots to take care of them when they arrive?? Other scientist talk about possible Generation ships.
     
  10. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Whatever happens we wont be around!
     
  11. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    we can dream about it. At one time it use to take 3 months to cross the Atlantic now few hours.
     
  12. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    At most we can dream about moon or mars.

    I sure would like to take an orbit around earth...hopefully in few decades virgin atlantic space tourism thing becomes affordable. Ive still got age on my side :)
     
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  13. utubekhiladi

    utubekhiladi The Preacher Elite Member

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    lets ship all pakis to that planet
     
  14. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    ***fixed***
     
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  15. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    life.time.mk

    NASA's Kepler Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone Outside Our Solar System


    ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2011) — NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region around a star where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets.

    The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don't yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.
    Previous research hinted at the existence of near-Earth-size planets in habitable zones, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Two other small planets orbiting stars smaller and cooler than our sun recently were confirmed on the very edges of the habitable zone, with orbits more closely resembling those of Venus and Mars.
    "This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth's twin," said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Kepler's results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA's science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe."
    Kepler discovers planets and planet candidates by measuring dips in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars to search for planets that cross in front, or "transit," the stars. Kepler requires at least three transits to verify a signal as a planet.
    "Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet," said William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., who led the team that discovered Kepler-22b. "The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season."
    The Kepler science team uses ground-based telescopes and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to review observations on planet candidates the spacecraft finds. The star field that Kepler observes in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra can only be seen from ground-based observatories in spring through early fall. The data from these other observations help determine which candidates can be validated as planets.
    Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away. While the planet is larger than Earth, its orbit of 290 days around a sun-like star resembles that of our world. The planet's host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.
    Of the 54 habitable zone planet candidates reported in February 2011, Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed. This milestone will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.
    The Kepler team is hosting its inaugural science conference at Ames Dec. 5-9, announcing 1,094 new planet candidate discoveries. Since the last catalog was released in February, the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler has increased by 89 percent and now totals 2,326. Of these, 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are super Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55 are larger than Jupiter.
    The findings, based on observations conducted May 2009 to September 2010, show a dramatic increase in the numbers of smaller-size planet candidates.
    Kepler observed many large planets in small orbits early in its mission, which were reflected in the February data release. Having had more time to observe three transits of planets with longer orbital periods, the new data suggest that planets one to four times the size of Earth may be abundant in the galaxy.
    The number of Earth-size, and super Earth-size candidates, has increased by more than 200 and 140 percent since February, respectively.
    There are 48 planet candidates in their star's habitable zone. While this is a decrease from the 54 reported in February, the Kepler team has applied a stricter definition of what constitutes a habitable zone in the new catalog, to account for the warming effect of atmospheres, which would move the zone away from the star, out to longer orbital periods.
    "The tremendous growth in the number of Earth-size candidates tells us that we're honing in on the planets Kepler was designed to detect: those that are not only Earth-size, but also are potentially habitable," said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. "The more data we collect, the keener our eye for finding the smallest planets out at longer orbital periods."
    NASA's Ames Research Center manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development.
    Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
    The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters.
     
  16. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    To be humane, send them at night.
     
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  17. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Good show.

    Now's the time to take off!
     
  18. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    It is over 600 light years away.
     
  19. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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