Nasa set to launch first mission to find Earth-like worlds

mercurial

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Nasa is set to launch a £428million space mission to hunt for Earth-like worlds that may harbour alien life.

Scientists believe that the three-and-a-half year voyage of the Kepler telescope, considered one of the agency's most exciting unmanned spacecraft, will help answer the centuries-old question: 'Are we alone?'

Due to blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Friday, it will look for evidence of planets in the 'Goldilocks zone' around 100,000 stars, so named by scientists because conditions there are not too hot, not too cold, but just right for liquid water - and therefore life - to exist.

They say the search could yield 50 or more potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system.

'If we find that many, it will certainly mean life may well be common throughout our galaxy,' said Bill Borucki, the project's principal investigator at Nasa's Ames Research Centre in California.

'On the other hand, if we don't find any, that is still a profound discovery. It will mean that Earth must be very rare - we may be the only life in our universe. It'll mean there will be no Star Trek.'

The spacecraft will carry a highly sensitive light meter, or photometer, that will stare constantly at an area of the Milky Way to measure the brightness of each star in Nasa's target group every 30 minutes for over three years.

When a planet passes in front of the star, the brightness will dim, like a blink. By measuring precisely how much the light fluctuates, and for how long, Kepler can calculate the size and temperature of the planet - information that will tell scientists whether or not that planet is habitable.

'An Earth-like planet moving in front of a star is going to cause that star to dim by one part per 10,000. That's like looking at a car headlight from a great distance and trying to sense the brightness change when a flea crawls across the surface - but the Kepler instrument is designed to detect such small changes,' explained project scientist Patricia Boyd.

She added: 'We have an innate curiosity about our origins. Is life in our galaxy common, does it exist, are we alone, how unique is life here on Earth? And the Kepler mission is one step in answering that question.'

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I think we're situated at the Perseus Arm.
 
P

Picard

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****ing idiots.

They should rather use that money to fund the research of a space elevator. Once we have that, space exploration will go into warpdrive.
 
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Voicy

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That's pretty awesome to FIND planets...

The search for intelligent life out there is not a new idea from Nasa by any means though.

The 1st was in the early 70s when they designed the "Pioneer Plaque" indicating some of our science and intelligence - in the hope that intelligent life would find US.

From Wikipedia:
The Pioneer plaques are a pair of gold anodized aluminum plaques which were placed on board the 1972 Pioneer 10 and 1973 Pioneer 11 spacecraft, featuring a pictorial message, in case either Pioneer 10 or 11 are intercepted by extraterrestrial beings. The plaques show the nude figures of a human male and female along with several symbols that are designed to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft.

The Pioneer spacecrafts were the first human-built objects to leave the solar system. The plaque is attached to the antenna support struts in a position that shields it from erosion by stellar dust.

The Voyager Golden Record, a much more complex and detailed message using (then) state-of-the-art media, was attached to the Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977.
 

alloytoo

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****ing idiots.

They should rather use that money to fund the research of a space elevator. Once we have that, space exploration will go into warpdrive.

I have to agree with you.

Putting stuff in orbit is just too bloody expensive and unreliable.
 

Slootvreter

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Aug 7, 2008
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If u were an alien would you trust us?

Humanity is still too immature and ignorant.

I wonder why it is that people imagine aliens to be superior beings to humans. For all we know they (if any) could be amoeba-like organisms.
 
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