Archive for the ‘Discovery’ Tag

The Kepler Mission, NASA Discovery mission #10–Kelper-16B   23 comments

Planet Hunting Spacecraft – Search for habitable planets

WHERE THE SUN SETS TWICE-PLANET KELPER-16B

-In the Light to Two Suns

 

double sunset

NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered a world where two suns set over the horizon instead of just one.

The existence of a world with a double sunset has, until now, been “the stuff of science fiction” confined to sci-fi movies such as Star Wars.

Over three decades later a world with double suns is now a scientific fact.

 

 

The new planet “Kepler-16b” is located 200 light-years from Earth, and like Tatooine, the home world of Star Wars Luke Skywalker, is a circumbinary planet – a planet which orbits two stars.

StarWars-Planet TatooineLuke SkywalkerTatooines Two Suns

A cold and inhospitable world similar in size to Saturn, KELPER-16B is thought to consist of about 50 percent rock and 50 percent gas. A gas giant like Jupiter in the Earth’s system rather than another terrestrial type world. Much too cold for life. The parent stars are smaller than our sun. One is 69 percent the mass of the sun and the other only 20 percent. KELPER-16B orbits around both stars every 229 days, similar to Venus’ 225-day orbit, but lies outside the system’s habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface, because the stars are cooler than our sun.

                   In the Light of Two Suns_Kelper-16BKelper-16B orbiting two starsWhere the Sun Sets Twice_Kelper-16B

Researchers in Austin, Texas have been busy calculating the likelihood of Earth-like planets existing around twin stars. Worlds with two suns.

The existence of Earth-like worlds in the habitable zones around binary systems is now thought possible by astrophysicists from the University of Texas at Arlington. These regions are the right temperature to support liquid water on its surface, as in oceans and seas, and therefore life, in a form familiar to us.

Extrasolar-Moon: CREDIT: David A. Aguilar

 

Using the Kepler-16 double sun system as a basis and beginning point it has been established that as with our own the habitable zone of this system is centered mostly on the system’s primary star and extends in a region around it equal to 0.36 to 0.71 the distance of the Earth to the sun. A roughly similar distance as that between Earth and neighboring planet Venus, out to about the distance of red planetary neighbor Mars.

One possibility the researchers have also explored the possiblility that a planet the size of Earth could be orbiting beyond the twin star system which would put it ouside the area considered the habitable zone. An area known as the extended region.

There have not been any "exomoons" found so far but the planned Space Telescope – the James Webb, will have the necessary facilities to study the atmosphere of an alien exomoon, detecting and analysing vital gases for example carbon dioxide and oxygen.

The Kelper Space Telescope has so far discovered:

  • 21 confirmed planets
  • 1235 Planetary Candidates
  • 2165 Eclipsing Binary Stars

        And this is only the beginning!!!!!

SETI Project   13 comments

“SETI  Project”
The Search For Extra Terrestrial Intelligence 
There are 100billion trillion planets that can host life.  Researchers have studied the conditions necessary to support life and calculated there could be between 361 and 38,000 ‘intelligent civilisations’ on other planets although what  form they would take remains unknown.  It is ‘inevitable that Earth-like planets exist and that we will find a planet able to support life, possibly within the next 4 years. 
 
The chances of finding intelligent life are only fleeting because in terms of the universe it only exists for a fraction of time.  Extra Terrestrial life could be living unnoticed amongst us right now because it would consist of microbes and DNA structure that humans would not recognise.
 
  
 

SETI researchers aren’t actually looking for the Extra Terrestrials themselves; they are hunting for evidence of their technology.  They do this by scanning the skies for radio or light signals that would tell us that creatures of high enough intelligence to build a transmitter on a high-powered laser, exist out there.  These experiments try to detect intelligence hundreds or thousands of light-years away, and because of that considerable distance any immediate concerns that the SETI quest might be dangerous can be ruled out.

 

The reasons for doing this, given that any signals discovered would be from life we will probably never meet:

 

            • We might learn something.
            • We would know we are not alone – of great philosophical importance
            • Knowing there is other intelligent life out there would also answer the question of how likely is it that a planet with life that would produce intelligent life.

SETI@HOME:  The SETI home project has been running since May 1999. It was the first project to analyse a vast amount of data, in this case gathered by radio telescopes around the world, by cutting it into packets of data (work units) and sending to millions of idle computers connected to the Internet, where it is analysed by downloadable software that operates on your computer as a screensaver. 

  SETI@home screen saver at work

 

Once analyzed results are sent via the internet back to the project HQ in Berkeley and another work unit is down-loaded onto your PC.  The screen saver looks for signals of various narrow bandwidths and pulse rates, and signals that might drift slowly up or down the dial.  If it’s your PC that finds that signal, then you will be the first person in all history to prove the existence of intelligent beings.

 

To get involved in actually doing SETI research log on to http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/. Fill in your details and take a few moments to download Uni of California at Berkeley’s popular screen saver, SETI@home.

 

 

The next generation SETI@home is 500 times more powerful than anything anyone has done before.  That means we are 500 times more likely to find ET than with the original SETI@home.