It isn’t really surprising that there’s an earth-like planet out there but the fact that we may have actually found one is very cool news.

For the first time astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures, a find researchers described Tuesday as a big step in the search for “life in the universe.”

The planet is just the right size, might have water in liquid form, and in galactic terms is relatively nearby at 120 trillion miles away. But the star it closely orbits, known as a “red dwarf,” is much smaller, dimmer and cooler than our sun.

There’s still a lot that is unknown about the new planet, which could be deemed inhospitable to life once more is known about it. And it’s worth noting that scientists’ requirements for habitability count Mars in that category: a size relatively similar to Earth’s with temperatures that would permit liquid water. However, this is the first outside our solar system that meets those standards.

“It’s a significant step on the way to finding possible life in the universe,” said University of Geneva astronomer Michel Mayor, one of 11 European scientists on the team that found the planet. “It’s a nice discovery. We still have a lot of questions.”

After blogging the news for six years I’m ready and willing to get on the first rocket heading there. I’m not the only one.

Update:
It has a Wikipedia entry.



7 Comments

  1. ggg

    I vaguely recall that a ship travelling at the takeoff velocity (ca. 25,000 mph) of the fastest vehicle ever built, the Saturn V rocket used for the Apollo missions, would take ca. 120,000 years to reach Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun, 4.22 light-years away. (Of course, this is only theoretical, as we do not yet have the technology to maintain this speed over the entire flight.) Gliese 581 c is ca. 20.5 light-years away, so multiply the time by 5 or so–600,000 years at the *very* least.

    Of course, a light or radio signal would only take 20.5 years to get there, leaving open the possibility of a reply within the lifetime of many of today’s observers…

  2. nate robinson

    Hi. There is no reason with our current technology that a ship accelerating at 1 g for an extended period of time coudn’t come close to the speed of light. Because space is a vacuum and the inertia of the craft would be unchanged maintaining the crafts speed would negligible. The closer to the speed of light the craft would get the heavier the craft would get and the more energy it would take to increase its velocity.

    Getting to Gliese 581 c, 20.4 light years away, could take as little as 30 years and is definitely achievable. At .9 percent of the speed of light the effects of relativity would be significant. The passangers of the craft would not age nearly as fast as compared to people on earth.

  3. michael oneill

    hi scientists should work harder to achiveng the speed of light and try every possible way of getting there if i ot offered toget inoa ship and travel there i would take easy i have always wondered if theres life in our universe i think so what do use think about life onour planets email me with answers please

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