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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 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:

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
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.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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