To Infinity — Or Maybe Not So Far
If you hadn’t guessed from my last post, I’m a sci-fi nerd who’s life plan involves intergalactic exploration and diplomatic relations with aliens. Ok, maybe that’s an overstatement, but I will be writing a lot about space travel and related topics. Consider yourself warned.
If you’ve listened to Al Gore at all in the last 8 years you know that there is a war going on: the war to save the planet. The planet is losing, if not lost already.
We are faced with two options: fight harder to undo the damage we have done to Earth, or search for a habitable planet to make our new home and create the technology to get there. Since this is a “Tech Blog,” you can probably guess which option I’m going to talk about.
Back in April of 2007, a low mass planet was found orbiting in the habitable zone of Gliese 581, a red dwarf star just 20.3 lightyears away (a quick 200 year nap with suspended animation technology). This generated great excitement because of its similarities to Earth, but further research into the planet (Gliese 581 c) showed that a runaway greenhouse effect would make its atmosphere closer to that of Venus than Earth and thus uninhabitable.
But this month the eye of the astronomical world is trained back on Gliese 581. A new planet, Gliese 581 g. was discovered and appears to be life-sustainable; in fact it is the most Earth-like planet discovered to date, with a rocky terrain and a gravitational pull comparable enough to our own for a person to walk on the planet’s surface without being crushed to death or floating away. Gliese 581 g sits firmly in Gliese 581′s habitable zone. With a chilly but livable temperature of about 10 degrees Fahrenheit and seasons of 37 Earth days, its mass is about four times that of the Earth, and its atmosphere is highly conducive to the presence of water, the solvent of life.
The most exciting part of this discovery is not the discovery itself, but the fact that if planets like this exist this close to us, untold millions more must exist across the universe.
Posted in TechnoLogical