For as long as man has learned to think, he has asked himself the mythical question: Are we alone in this universe? Even in ancient times, we believed in otherworldly beings such as angels who came from the skies.
But even in hard core science, this is a legitimate question. We used to think we would never know the answer, until recently.
The Kepler space has changed the way that we look at the universe. It has revealed over 100 potential planets that
are possible candidates of life, and provided us the opportunity to see how life is created, and what building blocks are necessary for it to thrive.
When we think of alien life, we often think of the beings in science fiction, like Alien, Predator, the Martians from War of The Worlds, or the Greys. In reality, alien life we do find may be in the form of microscopic organisms.
That, however, does not rule out the possibility that life cannot exist in extreme environments totally hostile to humans.
But will we ever find another Earth? That depends on who you ask. Most scientists now agree that the possibility of another world like ours is not only probable, but likely. The big problem is how do we get there? The probability of an intelligent civilization, however, is much slimmer. There is a equation called the Drake Equation, which determines the factors, and once you figure all of them, it’s a wonder we’re here at all.
Tomorrow I will discuss what the Kepler is and does, and what it has taught us so far. Until then, here are today’s links:
THE KEPLER TELESCOPE
The Kepler telescope was launched on March 7th, 2009, a product of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Its mission is to determine the existence of planets within a certain quadrant of stars, approximately 145,000 at any one time.
It uses the Transit method, in which the telescope measures the brightness of a star as a planet passes in front of it. Larger planets tend to give off more light from their star than smaller ones.
The telescope has had the most success finding larger gas giants, but has found some small earth sized planets such as Gleise 832c, which orbits the habitable zone of a red dwarf star. The telescope has set the stage for newer probes, which will help us in the future determine if planets are habitable for life. We may someday find a planet just like our own.
This system has shown us worlds that we never thought could exist. Hot, Hellish worlds, cold, inhospitable worlds and exoplanets that have no sun to orbit, contrary to all our beliefs. We will one day unlock the mysteries of these worlds, and learn how to survive in extreme conditions. Until then, we can only imagine what they are like.
Tomorrow, I will discuss what scientists believe life could be like on other worlds, and why they think life could be closer than you would expect. Here are today’s links.
LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS
Ever wonder what life would be like on other planets? Scientists say that it may be weirder than we could ever imagine. The Kepler telescope has recently found several earth sized water based worlds that may harbor life, including two moons, Europa, and Enceladus, which are right in our own solar system.
It is most likely any life we do find will be based on water, like Earth. The biology, however, may be completely different. There are animals right here on Earth that can survive in environments that humans would die in. To believe life couldn’t exist because we couldn’t is just naive thinking.
Whether or not intelligent life exists in our galaxy remains to seen. Most scientists dispel this belief, saying that we would have heard from them already. But if we did, would they even tell us? The impact on mankind would be tremendous, and would change our fate dramatically. They also cite the Drake equation, stating the improbability of such odds, and refer to how long civilizations have lasted here on our own planet.
But can we really judge other worlds by our own? Yes and no. Some factors here on Earth pertain to other worlds as well. After all, we’re all made of the same stuff. It’s just arranged differently. Most civilizations would also have to be benevolent, if they wanted to survive any length of time.
There are several potential planets that orbit red dwarf stars that NASA has considered habitable for life. Although they are usually smaller than our own sun, red dwarfs are more likely to harbor life than yellow suns like our own.
Friday I will discuss NASA’s plans to search for habitable worlds in the future, and what their plans are to get there, and what the impact will be if we find life there. Until tomorrow, here are today’s links.
NASA’S FUTURE PLANS
NASA is on the verge of the greatest discovery of mankind-whether or not we are unique in this universe or not. Several new telescopes are being developed to answer this question, including the TESS satellite in 2017, the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, and the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope in 2020. All of these telescopes will operate either on the transit method, or by measuring atmospheric contents.
But once we find life, will it matter if we can’t get there? NASA is working on that technology too, but is at least decades with even coming up with a propulsion system that would even be feasible. They are looking at antimatter, cold ram jet fusion, solar sails and ion drives. We still probably will not get to the nearest star for at least 47 years, even
by the fastest methods.
When, and if we branch out of our tiny section of the galaxy, it will definitely have a huge impact to mankind. It will mean that we have finally conquered the final frontier-to boldly go where no one has gone before. Please join me Monday for a brand new series.
Here are today’s links: