Astronomers Discover 3 Planets That May Support Life

Astronomers Discover 3 Planets That May Support LifeAstronomers announced that they’ve identified a star system with up to seven planets — three of which could potentially host life — 22 light-years away.

‘Habitable zone’

The likelihood that conditions could support life on at least one of those planets, given that there are three terrestrial-mass planets in the habitable zone of one system, is “tremendous,” according to at least one scientist. The “habitable zone” is the area near a star in which a planet can theoretically hold liquid water. In our own solar system, Venus is close to the inner edge of potential habitability, while Mars is closer to the outer edge.

The discovery is the largest number of “habitable zone” planets ever found within a single system, said Guillem Anglada-Escude of the University of Gottingen, Germany, who led the team of astronomers. The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. The findings are only the latest in a recent string of identifications of planets that may host life.


‘More exciting discoveries’

The three planets orbit a star called Gliese 667C, part of the triple-star system Gliese 667. They are between four and eight times the mass of the Earth, making them “super-Earths.” The planets are likely either rocky or water worlds, meaning they’re entirely covered in water. These particular planets also appear to be “tidally locked,” meaning the same side of a planet is always facing a star. That means one side of the planet always gets light and the other hemisphere is always in darkness.

Because they are so far away, the composition of the atmospheres of all of these planets outside our solar system remains unknown. Whether life truly roams or swims out there is still to be seen. Still, Anglada-Escude says the existence of star systems packed with potentially habitable planets, and the diversity of planets that Kepler has found, suggest there are more exciting discoveries yet to come.

Do you think the astronomers are very close to finding another planet that is truly habitable for us? Feel free to share your speculations with us!

Source: Elizabeth Landau | CNN

Image: Sci Tech Daily

Mars Rover Curiosity Nears Red Planet

NASA gave a green light of sorts late Sunday for the Mars Science Laboratory and the Curiosity rover, which are mere hours from a nerve-wracking landing on Mars, following an 8 ½ month race to the red planet at 8,000 mph. In this case, a green light is no light at all.

The space agency said Curiosity remains in good health, and was steering so smoothly between planets that a planned minor course correction Saturday wasn’t necessary. And with the gravitational pull of Mars already tugging on the spaceship, arrival is being closely monitored by the watchful eyes of mission control.

The distance between the planets remains a stubborn challenge to mission control; due to the signal time lag between Mars and Earth (it takes about 14 minutes for a signal on Mars to zip to Earth), Curiosity will execute the landing autonomously, following the half a million lines of computer code designed by Earthlings. Curiosity will not be communicating directly with Earth as it lands, because Earth will set beneath the Martian horizon from Curiosity’s perspective about two minutes before the landing.


The first Mars pictures expected from Curiosity are reduced-resolution fisheye black-and-white images received either in the first few minutes after touchdown or more than two hours later. Higher resolution and color images from other cameras could come later in the first week.

Through a remarkable combination of engineering and mathematics, a crew will attempt to precisely position a second satellite — maneuvering it to just the spot around the giant planet to capture the split second when Curiosity falls from the skies. NASA said the craft has been acting as a stunt double for astronauts who might someday follow in its wake, exposing itself to the same cosmic radiation humans would experience following the route to Mars.

Do you think a human community in Mars will be possible in the near future? Would YOU want to reside in the Red Planet?

Source: Fox News

Image: University of Toronto