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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 01:12 PM
Original message
NASA finds planet that's just about right for life
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer

Monday, December 5, 2011

WASHINGTON, (AP) --

NASA has found a new planet outside our solar system that's eerily similar to Earth in key aspects.

Scientists say the temperature on the surface of the planet is about a comfy 72 degrees. Its star could almost be a twin of our sun. It likely has water and land.

It was found in the middle of the habitable zone, making it the best potential target for life yet.

The discovery announced Monday was made by NASA's Kepler planet-hunting telescope. This is the first time Kepler confirmed a planet outside our solar system in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold habitable zone.

Twice before astronomers have announced a planet found in that zone, but neither was as promising. One was later disputed; the other is on the hot edge of the zone.



Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/1...
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Motown_Johnny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. Kepler sure is doing it's job as well as could be hoped
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2397233,00.asp

^snip^

The Kepler spacecraft has discovered 2,326 potential planets just 16 months into its planet-hunting mission. If those discoveries are confirmed, it brings the total number of planets scientists have discovered outside of our solar system to four times the 700 or so that were known to exist prior to Kepler's mission.

Kepler was launched in March 2009. The $600 million space observatory looks for small changes in a star's brightness that indicate a planet is transiting the star from the spacecraft's vantage point.

The spacecraft then sends its data back to Earth, where scientists conduct follow-up observations to determine if the candidate planets Kepler has observed are the real deal. Only about two dozen Kepler-discovered planets have been confirmed so far, but researchers say about 80 percent of the spacecraft's positive hits should wind up passing muster as planets.

Of the more than 2,000 candidate planets Kepler has discovered nearly 700 are larger than Earth, while 207 are about the same size as our home planet. The confirmation of planet status for Kepler-22b is almost certainly just the start for researchersthe Kepler spacecraft has also sent back data on nearly 50 more candidate planets that orbit within the habitable zones of their stars.





I'm impressed! 2,326 planets in 16 months. Unless my math is off that is about 145 a month or nearly 5 a day.
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sakabatou Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
2. Time to get hyperspace engines going
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ikri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 01:56 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Something like that would be needed
The solar system where the exoplanet is located is 600 light years away. The Voyager spacecraft are travelling at around 35,000 mph which sounds fast but when 1 light year = 5.865 trillion miles it's barely worth mentioning.

If we launched a Voyager-like spacecraft to this exoplanet tomorrow it would take nearly 11.5 million years to arrive, which is quite depressing to consider.
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Aerows Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:23 PM
Response to Reply #4
22. We need Star Trek's Voyager
"Seven, locate us an M-Class planet for R&R" Captain Janeway :D
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
3. Here's the link to the NASA announcement,
Edited on Mon Dec-05-11 01:49 PM by MineralMan
where you'll get a lot more information:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepscicon...

And it's only 600 light years away, too. Why...we could get there in...what...a few thousand years, using technology we haven't yet developed.
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librechik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 02:10 PM
Response to Original message
5. oh good, I sure hope a small band of the ultra rich can afford to re-establish society there
after they've screwed up this planet. That seems to be what they are aiming at.
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warrior1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 02:14 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. what we need
is a super strong telescope that could see if there are buildings and structures. Probably not possible yet.
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Warren DeMontague Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. And when we finally get that going, here's what we see.
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Warren DeMontague Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 02:27 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. Do you understand what a light year is?
I don't care how much money someone has, they're not going there any time soon.
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librechik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. obviously,--the non-understanding of light years is on the part of those planet ruiners
who take our own planet so lightly. They seem to think it's an option, what with the contempt they treat all atempts at conserving the Earth.
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Warren DeMontague Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. I see your point, but I don't think they're even thinking that far ahead
long range planning doesn't really enter into it at all, just as science doesn't.
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Proud Liberal Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #5
16. Actually, they should have to sit here
and live in the mess they've created here while the rest of us leave them behind.
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librechik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 04:05 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. +1 n/t
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Jim Lane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:51 PM
Response to Reply #5
20. Good, let them go live their lives under 2.4G.
The NASA announcement says that the planet's radius is 2.4 times that of Earth. If its composition is similar to that of the Earth -- a big "if" and unknown right now -- its mass would be greater than Earth's by 2.4 cubed. Gravity on the surface would be weakened, compared to Earth's, by 2.4 squared, because the surface is farther from the center of mass. So, if I'm remembering my high school physics correctly, surface gravity would be 2.4 times what it is on Earth.

Humans could survive that but it would NOT be pleasant.
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Nuclear Unicorn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #5
26. I for one welcome the departure of our corporate overlords.
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
7. Kicked and recommended.
Thanks for the thread, n2doc. :thumbsup:
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lunatica Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
8. If Earth exists, then billions of earths exist
It's the law of averages.
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TheKentuckian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 03:04 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Wait until we can focus on moons surrounding the hot Jupiters out there.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. And every one of them is inaccessible to us.
They might as well not exist at all, as far as us migrating there is concerned. I have zero confidence that FTL travel is even possible. Barring that, we can't get to any of those planets. We may know they're there, and we may even know if they're populated at some point, assuming that any intelligent lifeform uses electromagnetic radiation for any length of time.
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Warren DeMontague Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 03:41 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. they exist enough for us to see them, which should be plenty fascinating for a long time
as for 'getting there', no, it won't happen any time soon, if at all... if it doesn't, we may have to reconcile living in a 'look but don't touch' universe.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. Absolutely, Pure Science is its Own Reward
I find it fascinating, if not practical, to study this.
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applegrove Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 10:44 PM
Response to Original message
19. CBC news said it would take their tv signal 600 years to get there.
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IDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:06 PM
Response to Original message
21. Some of these articles would have it seem there is already cable tv in place there
While a planet at the so-called 'habitable zone' may indeed have water and a suitable atmopsphere, that's no guarantee they exist. It's helpful for scientists to know that planets exist which may provide similar conditions to Earth, but that doesn't mean Humanity will be moving there anytime soon.
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backscatter712 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:26 PM
Response to Original message
23. IIRC, that planet's significantly larger than Earth. It'd be uncomfortable.
Gravity at its surface, IIRC was about 2.4 times Earth's gravity.

I currently weigh 140 lb. On Kepler-22b, I'd weigh 336 lb. OW!
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Aerows Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:43 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Yeah, that might be rough
You'd develop more muscles, though I'm sure the stress on your heart would be fairly significant, at least for a while. Does it even have oxygen?
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backscatter712 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:55 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. Who knows?
All we know is that it's in the Goldilocks Zone - not too hot, not too cold, thus it has liquid water on its surface. Maybe plant-like life evolved that photosynthesizes and generates oxygen like here on Earth, but it's hard to tell from 600 light-years away.
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