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No signs of life yet

The question of whether life exists on other planets will always remain a curiosity as we continue venturing into space. Movies like "E.T." and "Alien" are just a couple examples of our fascination with such an idea. 

NASA, as our government space agency, is obviously curious as well. But we could be a step closer to answering such questions as NASA has found the first Earth-Size planet in the 'habitable zone' of another star. 

According to NASA, the Kepler Space Telescope found an Earth-sized planet orbiting a star in the habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where liquid water might collect on the surface of an orbiting planet -- meaning the possibility of life. 

The new planet has been dubbed Kepler-186f, and it is about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. It orbits a star -- which is classified as an M dwarf, or red dwarf -- half the size and mass of our sun.

Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130-days and receives one-third the energy from its star that Earth gets from the sun. This puts it near the outer edge of the habitable zone. 
 
The brightness of its star at high noon is only as bright as Earth's sun appears about an hour before sunset. Further, NASA isn't quite sure yet, but it believes Kepler-186f's surface rocky.
 

A sketch of Kepler-186f [SOURCE: NASA]

Kepler-186f isn't alone over there, though. It has four companion planets, called Kepler-186b, Kepler-186c, Kepler-186d, and Kepler-186e. They make their way around their sun every four, seven, 13, and 22 days respectively, and they're too hot for any life to exist on them. 
 
Size is key here. While planets have been discovered in the habitable zone before, they haven't been the same size as Earth, which makes it harder for us to understand fully. The four companion planets, for example, all measure less than 1.5 times the size of Earth. Also, previously discovered planets in the habitable zone were were at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth. 

With Kepler-186f being about the same size as Earth, we can have a clearer idea of behaviors, topography, etc. But as of right now, its mass and composition are unknown. 

Unfortunately, whether it contains other life is also unknown at this time. But it's always a worthy consideration when stumbling upon new planets in what are considered "habitable" areas. 

"The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet Earth," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Future NASA missions, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, will discover the nearest rocky exoplanets and determine their composition and atmospheric conditions, continuing humankind's quest to find truly Earth-like worlds."

Source: NASA



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Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/18/2014 4:42:05 PM , Rating: -1
I Don't see the point of wasting time trying to find planets that are that far away, since we don't have the propulsion system needed to get there within a few years, meaning something that travels faster than the speed of light and won't have one anytime soon.

So with the worlds population growing at an alarming rate( potentially reaching 10 billion before mid century), resources getting depleted faster than they can regenerate, and some being finite period(oil), instead of all this deep space exploration, we got tons of stuff that needs fixing right now, and if so many people are already going hungry or not having clean drinking water with 7.2 billion people, we can imagine the scenario with 10 billion.




RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By aurareturn on 4/18/2014 4:46:14 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
I Don't see the point of wasting time trying to find planets that are that far away, since we don't have the propulsion system needed to get there within a few years, meaning something that travels faster than the speed of light and won't have one anytime soon.

So with the worlds population growing at an alarming rate( potentially reaching 10 billion before mid century), resources getting depleted faster than they can regenerate, and some being finite period(oil), instead of all this deep space exploration, we got tons of stuff that needs fixing right now, and if so many people are already going hungry or not having clean drinking water with 7.2 billion people, we can imagine the scenario with 10 billion.

So flawed. Using your logic, we'd still be living in caves.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By AntiM on 4/18/14, Rating: -1
RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/18/14, Rating: 0
RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By SPOOFE on 4/19/2014 1:25:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Knock down the trees to make more land for agriculture?, well that's kind of a last resort since they do this little thing for us called making the very oxygen we need to breathe,


Crops are plants, too.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/20/2014 12:37:36 PM , Rating: 2
They don't produce nearly the same amount of oxygen as a fully grown tree, or remove as much CO2 that we're adding as pollution.

Not to mention that trees also prevent soil erosion, especially in countries where the amount of rain fall isn't that much and deserts gradually take over in areas where there used to be trees.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By SPOOFE on 4/20/2014 2:51:47 PM , Rating: 2
Most of Earth's oxygen comes from the ocean.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/20/14, Rating: -1
RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By thesaxophonist on 4/19/2014 4:42:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah... if we're still using oil. There's enough uranium, and even more thorium, in the ground to provide thousands of years worth of electricity. Desalination plants? Problem solved. Not to mention fusion reactors, if and when we get that to work. What's holding us back is the Luddites who automatically think "OH NO, WE'RE ALL GONNA BLOW UP" when they hear the word "Nuclear".


By inighthawki on 4/19/2014 9:12:26 PM , Rating: 2
No, those are the people who hear the word "nucular" :)


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/20/2014 12:44:36 PM , Rating: 1
worst part is that 4th generation reactors exist,that use pebble lining in their reactors making their impossible to blow up or melt down if the cooling fails like it did in fukujima, which were 40 year old reactors.

It's a given that the owners want to maximize profits before having to shut the old reactors down, but it should have be done before waiting for something like this to happen


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By SPOOFE on 4/20/2014 2:53:17 PM , Rating: 3
We've had reactors for decades that have a hugely reduced risk of melting down; we put them in nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/20/14, Rating: -1
RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By Akrovah on 4/21/2014 11:31:29 AM , Rating: 2
So the Nautilus sank? Really? Then what is moored at the Submarine Force Library & Museum in Conneticut.

http://ussnautilus.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Nautilus_(SSN-571...


By shadow002 on 4/21/2014 12:43:39 PM , Rating: 1
My bad, it was the thresher...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sunken_nuclea...

There's been 10 sunken accidents according to that list( one sank twice, but was raised), and the 2 American ones exceeded their crush depth to boot, so they're in deep water.

Wonder what happened to the nuclear reactors inside...and you suggest drinking this water?...Seriously?


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By JediJeb on 4/18/2014 4:58:25 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
So with the worlds population growing at an alarming rate( potentially reaching 10 billion before mid century), resources getting depleted faster than they can regenerate, and some being finite period(oil), instead of all this deep space exploration, we got tons of stuff that needs fixing right now, and if so many people are already going hungry or not having clean drinking water with 7.2 billion people, we can imagine the scenario with 10 billion.


Won't see much difference with 10B versus 7.2B just as we didn't see much difference between 3B, 5B and 7.2B.

The 7.2B number sounds really large until you put it into perspective. If you gave every man, woman and child their own living space of 3000 square feet(equal to a nice house and small lawn) you could fit all those houses on the surface area of Greenland. That would leave the entire rest of the planet to grow food for them and to mine resources.

We are no where close to over population on this planet, and with current population growth numbers falling(places like Russia are struggling to keep population growth positive right now)the Earth has a long time before it needs to worry. The biggest problem the world has currently is governments that mismanage resources and mistreat their populations. That is what causes suffering and starvation in our current world population, not lack of space.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By AntiM on 4/18/2014 7:13:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That is what causes suffering and starvation in our current world population, not lack of space. -


Lack of space? You think overpopulation is related to how much "space" is available on the planet? There's enough room on the surface of the moon for about 4 or 5 billion people. Would they be able to survive there? No, there aren't any resources there for sustaining life. I'm just saying we need to leave some room and resources for nature. There's no need for there to be 7 billion humans on this planet.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By atechfan on 4/18/2014 8:17:23 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
There's no need for there to be 7 billion humans on this planet.


So do the right thing and kill yourself.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/18/2014 11:00:07 PM , Rating: 2
Read the reply I just posted and why it isn't just about living space, but all that comes with it, and I just pointed out some of them.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By SPOOFE on 4/19/2014 1:26:53 PM , Rating: 2
There's no physical reason the planet can't support ten billion people.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By JediJeb on 4/21/2014 6:32:56 PM , Rating: 2
You mentioned the problem of us drinking up all the fresh water and then having to rely on the oceans which would cost more to desalinize. So I guess if we add 3 billion more people it is going to stop raining? All that fresh water we have now comes from rain, and rain water comes mostly from sea water that has evaporated into the atmosphere. The Earth has a built in automatic desalinization plant already. Around where I live, we wish it would stop raining because there is too much fresh water here. Of course it seems like a problem when a huge amount of people decide to live in a place like southern California where the rain is often scarce, but that is a social decision not an environmental one.

As far back as the early 1900's people were warning that in a few years the planet would be overpopulated and everyone would die of starvation. The population has more than doubled since then without those predictions coming true. Since 1960 the population of China has doubled and the population of India has tripled. They are not starving off in mass yet, plus there are tons upon tons of food each year around the globe that is discarded and never used. We can support more people even with current agricultural practices, if needed we could improve those to feed even more.

You also mentioned bring water here from other places in our solar system to keep us from running out of drinking water. Where would that be stored, and where would it end up, well most likely in the oceans like all the other water. Now the question is, if you brought in billions and billions of water from off planet what would that added mass do to the planet? Would it affect our climate, or the rotation of the Earth, or even the interaction between the Earth and Sun gravitationally? Currently, no matter how large our population grows or what resources we use up, the mass of the planet remains the same(except for tiny variations from accumulated meteorite impacts and the small amounts of mass we shoot off into space or a little atmospheric loss). This is due to the simple law of conservation of mass, it is neither created or destroyed except when converted to energy in a nuclear reaction, and there is very little converted each year in that process.

The population can grow much larger and still be sustainable, but man will need to learn to control the waste. Not just hazardous waste, but overall waste. We would need to become more efficient, which is happening every day, to continue to sustain ourselves on Earth. Anyone who states that if we add a few billion more people the Earth is going to implode and civilization will end is just fear-mongering.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/21/2014 7:18:18 PM , Rating: 2
People don't like to lower their living standards, even if it's for the planets survival....They're too self centered and egotistical for that....It's all about ME ME and more me first.

Also you do realise there are about 1 billion people going without proper nutrition and a clean water supply as it is, so with 3 billion more to deal with?....


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By JediJeb on 4/22/2014 11:53:53 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Also you do realise there are about 1 billion people going without proper nutrition and a clean water supply as it is, so with 3 billion more to deal with?....


Again, this is not the limitation of the planet or it's resources, it is a social problem. If we had only 1 million people on the planet and 10 people controlled all the wealth and denied clean water and food from the rest by force you would still have 999,990 people without clean water and enough food to eat. The planet can sustain far more people than we currently have. Those who are currently starving are doing so because something or more precisely someone is keeping them from obtaining the food they need. There is enough over production of food just in the United States that the government pays farmers to keep tracts of land planted in grass that is never cut so that it isn't being used to grow crops or livestock. That along with all the national parks lands that are set aside and not used could feed millions or even billions more people.

Social/political problems are different from an actual physical limitation of the planet to support more people.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/20/2014 12:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
check out India with it's 1.6 billion population or china clocking in at 1.3 billion....Just between those 2 contries, it's nearly half the worlds population, and china has had a policy( recently revoked after 30 years), where families were limited to having just 1 child and heavily fined if they had more.

Would be fun to watch the reaction in the rest of the world if the population continues to grow in western democratic countries, heck even if the USA that legally limited families to just one kid.

Would be a riot seeing politicians trying to get elected while supporting this policy for the good of the planet....Either way we will reach the limits of this one planet in terms of population, barring a major war breaking out that makes WW2 look like a joke, or some disease with no cure spreads out and kills a few billion.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By kypd275 on 4/20/2014 11:19:22 PM , Rating: 2
Except, you know, many of those "western democratic countries" are struggling just to sustain their population, with many keeping up only due to immigration.

The majority of the population increase is from undeveloped/developing nation. Maybe you should go tell Japan how they need to keep their population growth in check... :rolleyes:


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/21/2014 12:49:26 AM , Rating: 2
And why are they doing that?....Yup western families aren't having kids in as high a number as they used to, people are living longer because of better healthcare for the older generation, and that means increased costs on medicare and federal pensions too, so the government needs more tax money.

Hence making it easier for immigrants to come to their countries and settle down and have large families that eventually enter the workforce and pay taxes...


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By kypd275 on 4/22/2014 1:42:19 AM , Rating: 2
Because in developed nations, having offspring is no longer an economic gain as they were in the old days where children represent extra labor and income generator, but is now an ever-increasingly large expense. There is little economic incentive to actually have children.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By Strunf on 4/22/2014 8:14:21 AM , Rating: 2
It's not just the economic factor, it's also a cultural thing, in the past people weren't so self-centered as they are today, if you say you stay at home to take care of your kids people will look at you as if you were stupid or something, in the past a successful family was a family that had many kids and could provide for them today it's not really the opposite but if you have many kids people find it weird and even wonder how you find time for yourself, as if taking care of your kids wasn't a fulfilling experience...


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By delphinus100 on 4/18/2014 11:38:58 PM , Rating: 2
Wanting to know and understand these objects, is only loosely related to the ability to get there personally...

Otherwise we'd never point a telescope at anything outside of our own galaxy.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/19/2014 12:22:38 PM , Rating: 1
I suppose for curiosity's sake, but the 500 light years quoted for this planet is well within own galaxy, which is 100 000 light years across, so we're not even close to being able to properly explore any of it, never mind other galaxies.

So with the limits of our own planet being pushed ever closer to it's maximum limit, exploring planets and moons within our own solar system to extract resources from will soon be a necessity, not an option and we have the technology to do it.

For instance, since I was talking about water and how we're going to need in badly before the end of this century, there a moon around Saturn (enceladus) that's basically a frozen block of ice several miles thick and it's assumed that the inner core is liquid water, so how about bringing it back to earth?

Another example?....The moon, and it's abundant supply of helium 2 witch only forms when there's no atmosphere and the moon in question has been exposed to the sun for billions of years.....It's the perfect fuel for a fusion reactor that produces way more power than nuclear, and has no used fuel that's radioactive to store.

And we're just sitting here and looking at stuff that's impossible to reach anytime soon?...Seriously?


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By vXv on 4/19/2014 1:46:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
For instance, since I was talking about water and how we're going to need in badly before the end of this century, there a moon around Saturn (enceladus)


There is more then enough water on this planet .. its salt water? So what? We have the technology to make drinkable water out of it (and its being done already in some places) ... and it is way more reasonable then mining water from billions of kilometers away ...


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/20/14, Rating: 0
RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By SPOOFE on 4/20/2014 2:55:21 PM , Rating: 2
You're really concerned that we're gonna drink up all the oceans? We'll need a bit more than ten billion people to accomplish that, even if we were specifically trying to.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/20/2014 8:11:00 PM , Rating: 1
Did you see the new horizons disaster a couple of years ago, leaked oil for over 2 months before it got sealed up, and only 15~20% of the oil got recovered while the rest is god knows where, and killed a lot of local species in those waters.

The list goes on and on with accidents on the oceans, crap dumped into them from untreated sewers, and that big garbage pile in the north pacific doesn't inspire confidence:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage...

You seriously want to drink this water?


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By kypd275 on 4/20/2014 11:23:45 PM , Rating: 2
Cleaning up/purifying those water is about infinitely more doable/practical/cheaper than trying to haul water from Saturn's moon. What are you going to do it with, your magical unicorn space freighter?

Logic, please have some.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/21/2014 1:05:33 AM , Rating: 1
True, but it would mean drinking water that was heavily polluted for decades and now being forced to drink this because we're out options and hope that the stations that clean it are good enough.

Countries are already broke enough with massive debts and I'm sure they'll love spending billions on those treatment stations....The ones in Dubai cost 4 billion to turn seawater into drinking water.

It's only the build price of an aircraft carrier and Dubai is just a small emirate....Now imagine doing project like that that covers the entire USA's needs.

Suddenly space unicorn is looking better isn't it?


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By Schrag4 on 4/21/2014 1:13:25 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I think we could stretch our drinkable water out quite a bit if we stopped doing stuff like this:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/17/portl...

Shadow, I hate to be the one pointing this out, but it seems clear from your posts that you think everyone is stupid/crazy except you. You don't seem to have much of a grasp on how figures scale, like population, land area, costs, etc. For instance, if it cost 4 billion to purify seawater for 2 million people, and if that cost would scale perfectly (it wouldn't), it would cost a "mere" 600 billion to cover the entire US. I think that's probably about 100 times cheaper than your space unicorn that would somehow transport enough water for the entire US all the way from Saturn's moons, year after year.

It's almost as if you've watched a few dozen videos produced by environmental activists without actually thinking any of it through for yourself.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/21/2014 10:37:56 PM , Rating: 2
As I said earlier, there's 1 billion people going hungry and that also is difficult to get fresh water, So what would another 3 billion do?

Let's stretch that even further into the next century and who knows how many we may be by then, and still having one the earth as a home....At some point, the planet reaches a breaking point and gives humans the proverbial finger...


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By Schrag4 on 4/22/2014 9:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
At some point, the planet reaches a breaking point and gives humans the proverbial finger


Yet another astonishing revelation - how can you possibly believe this? If the planet can't naturally provide enough food and fresh water for 10 billion people, how do you expect the human population to reach that number? And if by some magic (your unicorn again?) we were able to feed 3 or 4 billion more people than we had food for temporarily, would all of humanity die off once the magic wears off? Of course not.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By kypd275 on 4/22/2014 1:39:16 AM , Rating: 2
Wait, billions to do what's actually possible to do is too much for you, but spending what would likely be hundreds of billions or most likely tens of trillions or more to try to do something that is quite possibly centuries beyond our current technology is better?


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By Labotomizer on 4/20/2014 12:27:41 AM , Rating: 2
Why is it always a "this not that" answer with people like you? Kepler wasn't very expensive, expands our knowledge of the universe which is good for all of us. Private companies will worry about targeting other planets to strip resources as the technology develops.

NASA account for less than 1% of the entire US budget. Worrying over them "spending too much money" is about the most idiotic thing to do. They have their issues, as they're a government agency, but what they do is critical to the future of humanity. Perhaps more-so than any other function of government at this point.

As for "we don't have the technology" that's a bad reason to stop looking for places that we could possibly go when that tech develops. Keep in mind 100 years ago it was thought breaking the sound barrier was impossible, rockets out of our atmosphere we science fiction and we just start flying prop planes. Another 500 years? 1000 years? People need to stop thinking along the lines of "it won't happen in my life so it's not important".


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/20/2014 8:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
Planets were found where one In particular is just 12 light years away.....Now it is 7 times the size of the earth, but is earth like with a high potential of liquid water and being rock based (not a gas giant).

It's much closer and more likely to be reached when technology improves in the next decades or centuries....500 light years, not so much and we already have near 200scover0 planets discovered so far in the last 20 years, so how many more do we need to discover that we can't reach?


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By kypd275 on 4/20/2014 11:26:57 PM , Rating: 2
Without FTL travel, there is little practical difference between 12 LY and 500LY.

Also, who died and made you boss to decide that these research can only be used to find planets we can go to anyway?


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/21/2014 12:56:34 AM , Rating: 2
Even without FTL travel,12 light years can be covered in about 120 years with Ion engines already being tested right now.....500 light year is you guessed it, a 5000 year trip one way.

Slight difference wouldn't you say? ..With further improvements to ion engines, they can reach half the speed of light, so the trip gets knocked down to 24 years to get to that 12 light year planet.


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By Griffinhart on 4/21/2014 5:03:51 PM , Rating: 2
Your numbers are over the top optimistic.

First, building any sophisticated technology that can run for 5000 years is probably a bit impossible. Remember, 5000 years is pretty close to how old the first written language is. I'm sure we can build something that will last 50, 60 maybe a hundred years, but 5000?

Ion thrusters that are being tested can, theoretically, get a craft to hit top speed of about 110,000 mph (50 kps) That would mean that 12 light year trip would take over 73,000 years.

Given Ion Engines can't currently reach even 2ths of one percent of the speed of light, I have serious doubts as to ever hitting half light speed (a 3050% speed increase)


RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By kypd275 on 4/22/2014 1:49:02 AM , Rating: 2
Over the top optimistic is a massive understatement.

It would actually be much longer, as you would also have to add in the time and distance it'll take to decelerate.

Ion Engine that can reach 1/10th the speed of light, already being tested? The rest of the world would like to know where that is (and what you're smoking, because it's obviously some real good stuff).


By shadow002 on 4/20/2014 1:04:59 PM , Rating: 1
We still don't know everything there is to know about the earth even though we're living on it, despite all the eq uipement we have, never mind knowing what a planet 500 light years away is like with just telescopes.


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