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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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RE: Deep space is useless for now.
By shadow002 on 4/18/2014 10:55:23 PM , Rating: 0
Well let's put it into perspective shall we?

Add 3 billion extra people on the planet, their bodies are made of 70% water which has to be the drinking variety, and we have only about 3% of that on the planet, unless we planet on building huge desalinization plants to convert salt water in drinking water.

Now add the water for actual drinking, washing clothes and cooking food and bathing and the water needed to grow food, not to mention room for houses, schools, jobs, transport, electrical power, sewers,water treatment plants not to throw said sewage into the ocean directly, and hospitals...The list goes on and on basically.

You said, 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, and with 3 billion extra doing it, it becomes ever more important over time not to mention certain zones being known to have dangerous diseases like Ebola and it's so much fun dying of internal bleeding within 2 days and it having no cure.

Fun fact, if everyone on the planet lived like the average American does, and this is with the current amount of people on the planet, we'd need 3 1/2 earths to sustain them all.

Now do all of the above without raising pollution and further affecting climate change, which just those 3 billion people simply breathing releases tons of CO2, and you'd realise the monumental challenge this is.


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?


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