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Vega Older Than Thought: Mature Enough To Nurture Life

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the goa'uld-staging-center dept.

Space 130

sciencehabit writes about new estimates of Vega's age giving hope that any planets it might have are old enough to harbor life. From the article: "Shining just 25 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra, Vega is the fifth brightest star in the night sky. In 1983, astronomers discovered dust orbiting the star, suggesting it had a solar system, and Carl Sagan chose to make Vega the source of a SETI signal in his 1985 novel Contact. At the time, Vega was thought to be only about a couple hundred million years old, probably too young for any planets to have spawned life. Since then, however, estimates of Vega's age have increased to between 625 million and 850 million years old. So suitable planets have probably had sufficient time to develop primitive life." With improvements in telescopes allowing detection of the rough atmospheric composition of exoplanets on the way, this could be pretty exciting.

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If not (5, Funny)

Roachie (2180772) | about a year and a half ago | (#42174839)

... then its a great waste of space!

Re:If not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42174899)

Space is pretty big. I'm pretty sure some of it can be wasted.

Re:If not (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42174919)

*it's. How difficult it is?

Re:If not (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175199)

Hey faggot. Don't give me your shit. I don't need a fucking grammar Nazi pissing on my parade.

Re:If not (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175259)

Fuck you, you piece of garbage! One such as you shouldn't be allowed to live! You contaminate this world with your pseudo-intellectual waste!

Re:If not (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175745)

You contaminate this world with your pseudo-intellectual waste!

Learn to write, like every other grammar Nazi, you make mistakes in your own posts. Let me fix that for you:

You contaminate this world with your pseudo-intellectual waist, smart ass

Re:If not (2)

Roachie (2180772) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175825)

Holy fucking Buddha guys! Relax!

Can I recommend a good decaf?

Re:If not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175847)

waste was the correct term. waist refers to a person's, well..waist!

Re:If not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178301)

So, you are saying a smart ass doesn't have a pseudo-intellectual area around their mid-section?

Re:If not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177029)

Wow you're an idiot.

Re:If not (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177769)

I'm only giving you my shit if you're willing to take it. You did. Congratulations :)

Re:If not (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175513)

*it's. How difficult it is?

Are you kidding?

How difficult is it?

Re:If not (5, Funny)

Roachie (2180772) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175849)

Yea, there is some law of the cosmos that causes you to royally fuck up your grammar when criticizing spelling/typing of others.

Never flails.

Re:If not (4, Informative)

hutsell (1228828) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176313)

Yea, there is some law of the cosmos that causes you to royally fuck up your grammar when criticizing spelling/typing of others.
Never flails.

Prevailing Consensus:

"Skitt’s Law" (1999) "Any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself” or “the likelihood of an error in a post is directly proportional to the embarrassment it will cause the poster.”

Contenders:

"McKean’s Law" (2001) “Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling, or typographical error.”

“Hartman’s Law of Precriptivist Retaliation.” (1999) "Any article or statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one error.”

“Bell’s First Law of Usenet” (1990) "Flames of spelling and/or grammar will have spelling and/or grammatical errors.”

... and I thought I was going to read a sort of warm and fuzzy thread starting out with a reference to Carl Sagan's, Contact. Instead, the Nazism was about grammar; not Germany's bounced message returned from the Vega.

Re:If not (1)

Roachie (2180772) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176391)

Thanks for bring me up to date on the terminology.

Yea, this one jumped the rails with a quickness. My theory is that this post came late in the day when most of Slashdot Nation is coming down off its caffeine buzz.

For Carl.

Why stop with the pedantry there? (2)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176889)

suggesting it had a solar system

It would make so much more sense, in case of Vega, to write "planetary system."

Re:If not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178389)

Yea, there is some law of the cosmos that causes you to royally fuck up your grammar when criticizing spelling/typing of others.

Never flails.

I don't know if this was intentional or a mistype, because both words work:

Never flails or Never fails?

Re:If not (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177765)

I was supposed to be FUNNY.
A whoosh would be in order, but I suppose I was to witty even for that. Oh well :)

Re:If not (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175611)

s'it quite difficult sometimes.

Re:If not (1)

Canazza (1428553) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177115)

'tis 'tisn't it

CHEVY RULEZ !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42174849)

Love them Cosworth Vegas !!

Vega STRIKE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42174869)

I suggest a preemptive Vega strike to wipe out any aliens before they get us first!

Re:Vega STRIKE (2, Funny)

multiben (1916126) | about a year and a half ago | (#42174907)

Sheesh! You can't just come out and say it like that! You need to carefully construct a fear campaign that they are harbouring WMDs/Terrorists. Then we can go in full force and as a bonus we get to rape the planet for any resources too!

Re:Vega STRIKE (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177343)

There might have been long enough for some primitive life, but probably not long enough for oil or other fossil fuels.

Could be okay for mineral resources, I guess.

Re:Vega STRIKE (4, Funny)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year and a half ago | (#42174999)

I suggest a preemptive Vega strike to wipe out any aliens before they get us first!

Playing Vega Strike isn't going to wipe out any aliens, no matter how hard you try.

As a postscript, did anyone else glance at the submission and read the headline as "Vegas Older Than Thought: Mature Enough To Nurture Life." That'll be a relief to the people who live there, I thought.

Re:Vega STRIKE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177377)

I read "VGA Older Than Thought: Mature Enough To Nurture Life". It kind of made sense and sounded great.

Re:Vega STRIKE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175053)

Let's look at our options if we both discovered each other at the same time and assuming that we both have WMDs:

1. They are peaceful and we are peaceful, so we get along fine,
2. They are warlike and launch a surprise attack to annihilate us,
3. We launch a preemptive attack and annihilate them, or
4. We both both attack each other leading to the destruction of both of our worlds.

They see the same choices. Which one do you think they will pick? If we attack, it will cost us nothing, but if we both attack then intelligent life is destroyed in this part of the galaxy. If we don't attack then intelligent life may be preserved (though it may be destroyed in the future). What do you do, Mr. President?

Re:Vega STRIKE (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175553)

You're forgetting to weight the options with the possible new information available. Also, we're still only talking "possible basic life", not Slowly And Surely Laying Their Plans Against Us.

Re:Vega STRIKE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175759)

Shoot the hostage?

Re:Vega STRIKE (3, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176009)

5. They are neither warlike, nor stupid. Their intelligence apparatus has already inserted itself, albeit only superficially within our own government. Upon finding that we would allow such plans as the destruction of their people (laughable as it is) to be put in the hands of someone picked for qualification through a process designed to refine sociopaths, they have determined our total extermination is the only safe course.

Incidentally this means we are not being recomended to the United Plantes Comittees to fight poverty in third world planets, or possibly being nominated for eminent domain to make room for a new hyperspace bypass

Re:Vega STRIKE (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177931)

Hey, eminent domain means they have to pay us fair market value for Earth.

Re:Vega STRIKE (1)

omfgnosis (963606) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176671)

I'm pretty sure you end up informing against the other prisoner out of paranoid self-interest, even though the obvious intelligent choice is to operate on the assumption that everyone benefits more when you don't.

Re:Vega STRIKE (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175677)

So do you suggest a Hadouken or Yoga Flame?

Conquest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42174875)

That means we've got a jump on the Vegans: in a few short centuries, we can thunder into their backwater planet and vaporize them with lightning bolts from our three-legged lander craft. Hurray!! *We* get to be the bad guys in their SyFy horror films!

Re:Conquest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42174905)

That means we've got a jump on the Vegans: in a few short centuries, we can thunder into their backwater planet and vaporize them with lightning bolts from our three-legged lander craft. Hurray!! *We* get to be the bad guys in their SyFy horror films!

How about we send a bunch of Earth DNA now (in a robot ship full of microbes), so things look a little familiar once we get there?

Re:Conquest (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175133)

The Vegans should not pose a problem for us. Their strict adherence to a non-carnivorous lifestyle, shunning even protein rich foods like cheese and eggs, ensures that we would be able to beat them in a fair fight.

Re:Conquest (1)

havana9 (101033) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176809)

Yes, I'll be worried only if I live in Japan, especially near the Tokyo Tower. Anyway to be extra safel let's help Duke Fleed to steal the Grendizer.

Re:Conquest (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177529)

Beware of the vegans steep hipocrocy. Like most religions or ideologies, they get to the point where they believe if everyone follows my idea then there will be a better world. Once the idea that your idea is the greater good, bad things can happen.

Re:Conquest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42178367)

Hipocrocy: only a malnourished vegan would spell it that way. You've been outed.

Re:Conquest (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175383)

We always want their water!

Pretty damn young planets (2)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year and a half ago | (#42174883)

At less than a billion years old, it seems unlikely any planets there will have much in the way of life. I'm not really expecting that much excitement.

Re:Pretty damn young planets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42174963)

A billion years is plenty of time for something really small - Like Hobbits!!

Re:Pretty damn young planets (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175283)

It only took around a billion years for life to start on Earth. Took another few billion for it to get out of the ocean though.

Re:Pretty damn young planets (2)

GaratNW (978516) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175907)

And after 4.5 billion years, we still don't have intelligent life.

Re:Pretty damn young planets (5, Funny)

dryeo (100693) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176717)

Dolphins aren't intelligent?

Re:Pretty damn young planets (1)

formfeed (703859) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176869)

And after 4.5 billion years, we still don't have intelligent life.

Moding your post insightful would be quite a paradox then.

Re:Pretty damn young planets (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176877)

it only took 6,000 years for jesus to show up riding a velociraptor

Re:Pretty damn young planets (4, Insightful)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175337)

So to follow up, according to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] (yes, i'm breaking all the rules by using it as my primary source) the earliest possible signs of life on earth found so far are from 3.8 billion years ago, 700 million years after the earth formed, but there are other processes that could account for those signs. The earliest "undisputed" signs of life are from 3 billion years ago, 1.5 billion years after the earth formed. And more importantly life didn't start significantly altering the atmosphere until 2.4 billion years ago [wikipedia.org] . At least i'm not aware of any significant effects until the production of oxygen started.

So it's just barely possible that life might have started on the theoretical Vega planets, if we assume the earliest possible date for life on earth and assume that life on those planets follows a very similar path. (We only have one data point so far, so everything is an assumption.) But even if that's the case, we won't be able to detect that life using atmospheric analysis like the blurb says because, again assuming they follow the same timeline, they won't be evolved enough to have done anything to the atmosphere yet.

If there's something obvious i'm missing, please let me know.

Re:Pretty damn young planets (2)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175523)

With more than twice the Sun's mass and around 40 times as much luminosity, the environment around Vega has much more available energy at a given distance than the Solar System's environment.

I could guess this allows for the possible of faster evolution, assuming the most basic processes are not totally disrupted by the environment. Just as Vega's life sequence proceeds 10 times faster than the Sun's, perhaps their is a similar effect on life development around A class stars.

Re:Pretty damn young planets (4, Insightful)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175569)

Hmmm, interesting theory, but only if we're speculating about a form of life totally different from the kind of life on earth. If we're talking about the kind of carbon based life that needs liquid water to survive, the planet will need to be in the Goldilocks zone [wikipedia.org] , meaning that the planet will intercept about as much energy per square meter as the earth does. i.e. the hotter the star, the farther out the planet will be.

As soon as we throw out the idea of carbon-based life forms that need liquid water we really have no idea what kind of habitat they'd need or how quickly they'd evolve and it's all just a guessing game.

Re:Pretty damn young planets (2)

mog007 (677810) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177907)

I doubt more energy would allow for faster evolution.

If any planets are around Vega, it's entirely possible for them to house life. Life formed on Earth a few hundred million years after it formed. The tricky part would be detecting it.

Life was all anaerobic bacteria on Earth for most of its history. It didn't start getting complex until there was a sizable amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. That's partly why detecting any life on Vega at all is going to be very difficult. Free oxygen in the atmosphere is pretty good evidence of life, and we would be able to detect that at 25 light years away. The trouble is that because Vega is so young, it's doubtful that the simple organisms that would be there would have been able to generate oxygen that fast.

Assuming the aliens evolve the same way life did on Earth, and their biochemistry would allow for massive evolution with oxygen like us.

Re:Pretty damn young planets (5, Interesting)

The Master Control P (655590) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175621)

If the Vega system's evolution is similar to our own, the first signs of permanent life are likely originating there right now.

The reason we have no evidence of life before 3.8 billion years ago on Earth is because the Late Heavy Bombardment, which ended around then, would've wiped out anything living on any planetary surface anywhere in the solar system. It's entirely possible that life began many times before then only be to be repeatedly annihalated.

This provides an interesting constraint on life-supporting planets. The LHB was caused when the outer planets migrated into roughly their current orbital configuration and agitated various orbiting debris belts as their orbital resonances moved, them sending missiles flying every which way. This indicates that in a many planet system like ours, the planets must arrange themselves into stable orbits (preferably early on) for billions of years in order for advanced life to arise. Not only that, they have to do so in a manner that keeps them in the outer reaches of the solar system, as they will destroy or eject any rock worlds if they migrate too far sunwards (c.f. Hot Jupiters).

To my knowledge it's an open question how likely this is to happen. The fact is we haven't found a single extrasolar system that remotely resembles ours. A lot of that is because the limits of transit observation and dopper velocimetry create a massive bias in favor of seeing large worlds in close orbits: You want large dips in brightness and large velocity shifts, and on average have to watch for at least 1-2 orbital periods to confirm. Meaning you'd have to watch our solar system nonstop for over 160 years to discover all the massive planets this way!

Re:Pretty damn young planets (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176885)

you've mentioned a number of good factors, but honestly, our knowledge of this subject matter is so sketchy, there's a couple dozen more factors we can think of, then there's the factors we don't even know about

the only genuine intellectually honest answer is: "a long time, but no one really can say for sure how long"

Re:Pretty damn young planets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177493)

It doesn't take long for a civ to get to L1 L2 and stay out of the way of the majority of missiles. If humans are on the order of millions of years old, then billions of years it would not take. Just a lucky break between bombardments for society to advance to escape it. This is all pure speculation because I do not know the rate of bombardment during the time period your considering. But I imagine a planet with a motlen mantle that has not cooled enough to allow seas to form would make human-like bipedal life hard to take hold =)

Re:Pretty damn young planets (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175959)

It then took almost another 2Byrs for oxygen to build up to the point where colegen could be produced to stick cells together. In other words multicellular life didn't get going until ~ 0.5B years ago and is expected to last another 0.5Byrs. That's quite a narrow window for multicellular life when you consider the Sun is expected to burn and remain stable for at least 8Byrs in total.

My Monza is older! (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year and a half ago | (#42174889)

by at least billions and billions of years.

Re:My Monza is older! (1)

tipo159 (1151047) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175479)

Didn't the Monza come after the Vega?

Very cool! (1)

JasoninKS (1783390) | about a year and a half ago | (#42174897)

Very cool development! I'm really interested to see what else comes about in my lifetime. I was born in '74 and just think about the huge advances in space knowledge that have been made since then. Exciting stuff to come!

What do we know? (2)

Mrs. Grundy (680212) | about a year and a half ago | (#42174983)

In the entire history of the universe we have seen one example of life forming. It boggles the mind that from this one sample scientists think they know when, how, and where life can and can't form in the universe.

Re:What do we know? (3, Interesting)

p0p0 (1841106) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175039)

No, but it is a scenario that is proven and works, so they seek out similar scenarios. With the vastness of the universe, it's bound to happen again.

We know that (1, Funny)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175301)

people are getting paid real money to sit around in their underwear guessing which stars have planets and life. While eating Cheetos and drinking Dr. Pepper. I think I just found my next career.

Re:We know that (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175655)

I would definitely flunk that interview.

Re:We know that (4, Funny)

The Master Control P (655590) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175693)

Idiotic fantasy: Scientists sit around eating cheetos and drinking soda and guess which stars have planets.

Reality: Thousands of engineers and scientists dedicate our lives to refining theories based on decades (in some cases centuries) of work and building the most sensitive instruments ever created and the fastest computers ever built in order to know which stars have planets and life because science and engineering are FUCKING AWESOME.

u jelly?

Re:What do we know? (4, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175919)

It boggles the mind that from this one sample scientists think they know when, how, and where life can and can't form in the universe.

It's elementary my dear Watson... That is to say, it's all about the elements we see, and their known properties, and energy levels at which reactions occur. Sure there may be outliers somewhere but they, by definition, are pretty far out there.

Turns out that binary star systems are a lot more common than we once thought. In a binary star system, when a white dwarf eats another yellow star it starts producing lithium, and other heavier elements -- When it gets up to iron, it's game over. BLAM Type 1-A supernova. That's the most common supernova there is, and one of these is likely responsible for making all the elements floating around our sun. Furthermore, our sun seems to be pretty damn average. Additionally, rocky iron core planets are probably pretty damn common too. When you think of it like that, that tons of similar ovens are baking the same ingredients at around the same temperatures, then it's less of trying to find life exactly like our own, and more of looking for signs of the chemistry we know happens in a very common type of life baking oven -- Indeed, the kind that produced us. Our planet's not some really off the wall special place, so we're not special either. A puddle might think that its hole was perfectly designed just for it to fit in, but the reality is you make a divot, add water, you got a puddle... If we were looking for puddles we'd try to locate places where the temps are right to have liquid water. It's the same sort of thing for finding life.

That doesn't mean that there's no metal based life with mercury for blood and live the most brutal places, but it's a hell of a lot more likely that it'll be Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen that run alien life. Also, when you ( bake / cool / repeat ) the basic ingredients plentifully found on our planet eventually you discover amino acids form. The first self replicating chain of which will quickly dominate the other randomly joined chains by tearing them up to make copies -- a few imperfect copies, and you've got competition and evolution. Hell, the exact same thing happens in my automata experiments where little dots can randomly attract or repel -- Run the sim for a few months and you get some forming chains, then replication, and competition and evolution -- "Life" starts happening in my RAM. The parameters for the attraction and repulsion and boding co-efficients have to be right or nothing happens though... It's chemistry 101. There's no reason to remain boggled at all; Read up.

Oh shit... (1)

sconeu (64226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42174989)

Now we have to worry about the Vegan Tyranny. Also the interstellar empire [wikipedia.org] of the same name. Bloody vegans, always trying to take away our bacon!!!!

I tried a Vegan diet once (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175021)

but the delivery times from Vega were too long

Know what they call a Quarterpounder? (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175559)

A Royale with cheese.

Goldorak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175057)

In the 1980s, the Japanese cartoon Goldorak had the bad aliens come from the planet Vega. Based upon that, we really oughtn't go there.

Re:Goldorak (1)

mrbester (200927) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176769)

In Babylon 5 it is Minbar.

Well of course! (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175073)

Suzanne Vega has a daughter. (is there any other Vega?)

Re:Well of course! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175171)

Her name is Luca, she lives on the second floor.

Re:Well of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175643)

Luca Vega, eh?

Oy Chupacabra.

Re:Well of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42176993)

Luka is a boy's name.

Re:Well of course! (2)

alostpacket (1972110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175755)

Re:Well of course! (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | about a year and a half ago | (#42178147)

I know Street Fighter has been out for "a long time" but we should be able to determine Vega's age accurately.

Shucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175101)

Too bad none of you want to live long enough to find out if there is life there or not.

I for one welcome... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175145)

Okay, let's say Vegan slime mold is already broadcasting intelligent radio signals. Talk about your overacheivers. And you thought competing with Asian comp-sci majors was tough.

~17231 years to send a probe and find if life (1)

detain (687995) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175159)

According to http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_fast_are_modern_space_probes [answers.com] modern probes can travel roughly 39000 miles per hour, or 341640000 (39000*24*365) miles per year. 1 light year = 5.87849981 × 10^2 miles, so it would take about 17206 years (5.87849981 × 10^12 / 341640000) for a probe to get there, and another 25 years for it to send a light signal pattern back to us for us to process. Assuming once at the solar system the probe would be able to determine atmospheric compositions of some of the planets in the solar system, and possibly drop some rovers on a planet and send back some additional data. Might as well send a probe out and write down somewhere that we sent it out. Hopefully in 17k years we remember to look for an answer.

Re:~17231 years to send a probe and find if life (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175783)

You are forgetting that we have nukes. And that Vega is the last place we would want to go within a 25 ly radius.

Re:~17231 years to send a probe and find if life (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175873)

The probe in question is Voyager 1 [wikipedia.org] and was launched in 1977. Let's not call it modern. It was designed in an era when there was no such thing as a personal computer. A high end cellphone probably has more battery-powered computing power in your pocket now than all of the compute resources of NASA back then. Imagine what those engineers could achieve with this [top500.org] . Materials science has progressed also. But the biggest gift of days is in our understanding the rich resources available in the space around us. Water is abundant everywhere from Mercury to the edge of the solar system. We didn't know that back then. Almost all stars have planets in the habitable zone. We didn't know that either.

It's unlikely a mission to Vega would launch any sooner than 2037, or 60 years after the launch of the first Voyager. We have learned a lot of things since Voyager 1 was launched, and will have learned more. That none have gone faster is an artifact of 30 years of neglect of space operations, but not space science. At the moment Vega is too far to a man to reach in his span of years with the science we have, though another star might be. There is no reason to expect that this will always be so.

With VASMR 200KW [wikipedia.org] thrusters entering service on the ISS in a few years, and the development of suitable power plants [wired.com] ongoing, we still would need fuel - LOTS of fuel - on orbit or somewhere near zero-G to make a go of it. Fortunately in 26 months the NASA Dawn mission [nasa.gov] will arrive at Ceres [wikipedia.org] and find there a practically unlimited supply of Xenon, Argon, Hydrogen and Oxygen ready for mining as well as a surface amenable to easily building human habitats on. You may schedule two years from now for the space Gold Rush to begin.

Ceres is not only the perfect source for interstellar fuels: it's also the perfect launchpad as it should be possible to build a railgun there 1000KM long capable of launching interstellar probes with solar system escape velocity that don't require any fuel at all. It's also the only minor planet so situated within easy reach.

Planetary Resources [planetaryresources.com] , SpaceX [spacex.org] , Virgin Galactic [virgingalactic.com] and others are all over this. The people behind these efforts are some of the brightest, most successful minds the world has ever known. Elon Musk. Sergey Brin. Larry Page. Eric Schmidt. Richard Branson. These are but a few. They know something you don't know.

Hope we find life there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175177)

So they can take the term away from hipster vegetarians.

They Speaketh! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175197)

Carl Sagan chose to make Vega the source of a SETI signal in his novel....[The star system is] between 625 million and 850 million years old. So suitable planets have probably had sufficient time to develop primitive life."

SETI got a reply:

"glub glub glub, bwuurrrrp, glub glub."

Life timeline (1)

illestov (945762) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175267)

Life timeline on earth (in millions of years ago): Earth formation - 4,600; First life (simple cells) - 3,600; Dinosaurs ~ 300; Humans ~ 2.5; If we use that for comparison, and best case scenario of Vega having something very similar to earth, it is highly unlikely that it can host even the most basic of life forms..

Re:Life timeline (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175409)

I found a problem in your calculation. You use the word, "if".

Re:Life timeline (1)

rts008 (812749) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177143)

... it is highly unlikely that it can host even the most basic of life forms..

Maybe that is true, but plenty of time to evolve politicians and lawyers.
Give them time though, and they may evolve to basic life forms after a few trillion eons....Nah, who am I kidding. ;-)

Wow (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175271)

"Just" 25 light years away! Hey that's virtually next door. Let's go for the week-end. Sigh.

Re:Wow (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175921)

It's not as far as you think.

Re:Wow (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year and a half ago | (#42177475)

But it's further than we will ever go.

Did Vega's mom write this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175317)

Man Vega, getting kicked out of your parent's house is always sucks, I'm sure you can crash on the milk way's couch if need be.

Let's just hope Douglas Adams didn't typo. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175341)

I, for one, would hate to find out that the Vogons were really Vegans. I hate poetry.

Re:Let's just hope Douglas Adams didn't typo. (1)

MrP- (45616) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176181)

I'd prefer Vogons over Vegans actually.

Just as long as they don't join forces and write poems about tofu!

lame (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175555)

Articles like this drive me crazy. We have no idea how life starts in a solar system. We only have the most remote clue regarding how it arose here on earth. We have absolutely no idea if life exists on other planets in this solar system, there may even be intelligent life here, trapped under ice, or perhaps not caring to talk to us... To suggest any of the ridiculously scant data we have on even the nearest of our neighbor stars is any clue we can use to determine if life is possible there is idiotic. These sorts of articles are the sorts of things that future generations will dig up to laugh at how dumb we were way here in the stupid ages.

Just part of the picture (3, Informative)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a year and a half ago | (#42175695)

If we grant the reasonable assumption that the laws of physics are the same across the galaxy, then we can combine our "ridiculously scant data" on exoplanets with the information and knowledge we already have about life on Earth and the conditions on Mars and other planets visited by space probes. This is the same as in any crime investigation. By itself, a blood stain would be meaningless. You have to compare it to an existing database of DNA samples and corroborate it with other evidence.

Watch out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42175739)

This mean that if there is intelligent bacterial based slime mold inhabiting this solar system it has already heard our broadcasts during the Second War and Korea, watched I Love Lucy, Star Trek and US landings on the moon. Given our propensity for insane behavior they might just be getting ready for a preemptive strike at the Earth with an idea that they got from the first movie with Steve McQueen!

Vegans (1)

hemo_jr (1122113) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176157)

So when life is found there, those wheat germ sucking, soy loving vegans will have to give up their appellation and let it go back to the real Vegans -- the the freindly neighborhood aliens from Vega.

Hope for...? (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176411)

So are we hopeful for a chance of a playdate with some frisky Vegans, is that it? I guess we'd better be hopeful for more than just that, then, like hope that they have an FTL drive?

Home Pregnancy Test (-1)

healthandmedication (2755955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42176937)

Home Pregnancy Test http://goo.gl/DJx0v [goo.gl] Home pregnancy test, If you think you are pregnant, you may want to test yourself at home with a home pregnancy test. Home pregnancy tests have been most women's first choice to confirm their suspicion they might be pregnant.

Vega Danger? Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42177987)

well, MY '73 Vega died after about a year.....

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