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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 4/21/2014 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.


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