Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Another Planet Like Earth Discovered?

Discovering another planet like Earth is news. Big news. Really, really big. When one considers the rapid pace of technological progress, the possibility of travel to other stars becomes a real possibility. I’ve always believed that reality could catch up to science fiction when it comes to space travel.

Brief summary of known facts:

1) Planet lies 20 light years away.

2) It is 5 times as massive as Earth. This leaves a very big question: could humans survive for a lengthy time on such a planet? Could our hearts and other vital organs support bodies that weigh 5 times what they do now for indefinite periods of time?

3) It orbits a dim star known as Gliese 581 in the Constellation Libra. It is a Red Dwarf. That means that is much smaller than the Sun and puts out much less energy and light.

4) It orbits the star once every 13 days at a distance of 7 million miles. A Gliesean year would consist of just 13 days which would mean that every day would be a holiday. (What holidays would you propose get deleted from the list?)

5) To compare distances, the distance to the moon from the Earth is ¼ million miles. The distance to the Sun from the Earth is 92 million miles. The distance from the Sun to Venus is 67 million miles.

6) The planet’s temperature will be just right, ranging between 32 degrees and 104 degrees farenheit.

Here’s references from the press:

The New York Times

Yahoo News