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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 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.

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

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?

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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