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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 4/20/2014 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...

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