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Kepler-62 Has 2 Good Candidate Planets In the Search for Life

timothy posted 1 year,5 days | from the damn-dirty-wet-apes dept.

Space 79

astroengine writes "About 1,200 light-years from Earth, five planets are circling around sun-like star Kepler-62, two of which are fortuitously positioned for water, if any exists, to remain liquid on their surfaces — a condition believed to be necessary for life. The discovery, made by scientists using NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, is the strongest evidence yet for more than one Earth-sized planet existing in a star's so-called 'habitable' zone. 'We're particularly delighted to find that there are two planets in the habitable zone,' lead Kepler scientist William Borucki, with NASA's Ames Research Center in California, told Discovery News. 'It sort of doubles our chances of finding that Earth we'd all like to find. When you think about Earth and Mars, if Mars had been a bit larger, if Jupiter hadn't been so close, we'd again have two planets in the habitable zone and maybe we'd have a place to go,' he said." There's also a third planet believed to be a good candidate for hosting water.

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79 comments

That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43486613)

That's cool, and I'm all for looking for these things, but I can't help but feel a little sad knowing we'll never get there to explore them, even with robots.

Lets just hope they're open source (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43486791)

That depends on wether the robots are running Linux (in which case they'll make it) or running Windows (in which case they will blue screen seconds after being turned on and getting owned over the space-internet). Also if they run Linux then if things go wrong people can inspect the source and fix the problem.

Re:Lets just hope they're open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43486987)

The Windows robots will shut down as soon as they lose touch with the Windows(tm)(r) Genuine(tm)(r)(patent pending) Advantage(tm)(c)(K)(r) servers.

Re:Lets just hope they're open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43615463)

aw c'mon mods, this was fricken funny

Re:That's nice... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43486831)

I don't know about "never" but you do bring up a point: space is so vast that finding life of any sort of life is going to be a very long process.

I've been let down by sci-fi. In a Star Trek:Enterprise, it was mentioned (Season 4, IIRC) that Vulcan was 26 light years away. In reality, how many planets that may under the most flexible standards support life within that distance?

As far as I know it's zero.

In sci-fi at "Warp" whatever, the universe is teaming with life.

IN real life even if we could travel at Warp speeds, there's hardly any planets - that we know of today - that can support life within a lifetime of Warp travel. Eight times - TEN times the speed of light is not good enough, I'm afraid.

We need THOUSANDs of times the speed of light to have a Star Trek or Star Wars type of intergalactic society.

I'm afraid that humanity is going to be alone for a very very long time - maybe we will never see life on another planet.

I really hope I'm wrong because I think it would be the coolest thing in the World to find life on another planet and my hopes are on Mars - bacteria or something.

Re:That's nice... (4, Funny)

newcastlejon (1483695) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487325)

I've been let down by sci-fi. In a Star Trek:Enterprise...

Well, there's your problem right there.

Re:That's nice... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43488601)

I've been let down by sci-fi. In a Star Trek:Enterprise...

Well, there's your problem right there.

It's been a long road getting from there to here?

Re:That's nice... (4, Insightful)

coastwalker (307620) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487363)

Human beings are never going to get outside the solar system, the distance is just too great to get them to even the nearest star as bags of cells in water. But there is a reasonable chance that we can both transmit and receive information from other civilizations - all be it completely asynchronously. If we get really good at robots we might be able to seed a few local stars with self repairing robots with a range of science fiction purposes, but we will probably never know if they make it. Our current lifestyle is more likely to lead to human extinction before such grand objectives are attainable however, we are doing a lousy job of ensuring our own long term viability on the earth currently and it doesn't look likely to change soon. Heck its good fun though!

Re:That's nice... (5, Informative)

citylivin (1250770) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487983)

"Human beings are never going to get outside the solar system, the distance is just too great" - coastwalker 2013

"Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances." --Dr. Lee DeForest, "Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television."

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives." --Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." --Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

http://rense.com/general81/dw.htm [rense.com]

Re:That's nice... (0)

marcello_dl (667940) | 1 year,4 days | (#43490985)

Meh, failing predictions is easy. Real men destroy them.

"Think of the large computers (the mainframes and the minis) as the passenger train and the Apple personal computer as the Volkswagen. The Volkswagen isn't as fast or as comfortable as the passenger train. But the VW owners can go where they want and with whom they want. The VW owners have personal control of the machine" -- Steve Jobs, creator of the centralized-app-store-dependent iPhone.

Re:That's nice... (1)

justin12345 (846440) | 1 year,4 days | (#43490111)

Well then all we have to do is wrap the earth in a sheath of exotic matter that warps space-time to the point that a single second in the sheath on earth is 1000 years outside of it. Then just send out swarms of self replicating robots programmed to track down habitable planets and encase them in similar sheaths. After that build worm holes between the habitable worlds, easy-peasy!

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spin_(novel) [wikipedia.org] (it's a great book)

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43493943)

I dunno, man. I'd like for the sun to be wrapped in this exotic matter as well. Don't want a bunch of years wastefully shaved off our sun.

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43490291)

If we get really good at robots we might be able to seed a few local stars with self repairing robots with a range of science fiction purposes

Well, we are a lot closer to evolving into a life-form that can live in vacuum than we are in creating robot intelligent enough for such a mission.
People tend to say that terraforming Mars is just a dream but we already have the technology needed to overcome all those problems, it is just a matter of a planetary sized project so a single nation do not have the resources to do it alone. (Not necessarily true, but at least no one is willing to do that sacrifice.)
We are nowhere close to even think about how to build a robot smart enough to even do the decisionmaking necessary in exploration. We can only program it to react in situations that we can imagine. For self learning capabilities they are limited to whatever we can imagine as a end goal. We do not know how to make it create it's own intermediate goals and recondition itself to solve complex problems.

Our current lifestyle is more likely to lead to human extinction before such grand objectives are attainable however

The good news is that it only requires as speed of 13000 km/h to get there before the oceans will boil away due to the sun expansion.
The bad news is that unless we can skip to some other planet than Mars by then all, not just human, life as we know it will die then.

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43491399)

This is extremely rough math, but:
9.8 m/s^2 * 1 year = 309 million metres per second.

Yep. There's a small technical barrier there called the speed of light, but my general point is that it's not technically impossible to reach speeds that are fast enough to make interstellar travel possible in a lifetime. Hold 1 gee for 11 months and you'll be well into the effects of on-ship time dilation and then the galaxy is yours.

Might take a little bit to stop though.

Re:That's nice... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43492955)

Current technology works by expelling atoms one side so the ship moves to the opposite direction. You are always limited to the speed said atoms are expelled.

Currently with ion propulsion the fast you could go that i know of is DS4G with exhaust speed of 130 miles per second. Comparing with Light Speed (186 282 mile per second) means 0,07 % the speed of light (6000 years to next star).

Not saying what you saying is impossible just referring to how hard it is and what our current technology allows.
see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacecraft_propulsion#Table_of_methods

Just for perspective the fastest probe ever built (New Horizons) travels at 35 800 Miles per hour (or 10 miles per second).

There are other theoretical propulsion systems and some have proof of concept that work and are faster but there's a long way for that. Even if we could solve the speed issue there's still the safety issue, at those speeds (10% Light speed for example) one grain of dust has a huge amount of kinetic energy (Ec=1/2m*v^2) it could destroy the spacecraft easily. Not to mention radiation and other issues.

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#43503655)

The top speed of a spacecraft with a rocket engine is not limited by the speed of the exhaust relative to the ship. A force is created based on the rate at whch mass is accelerated out of the engine, relative to the ship - this force can be created regardless of the speed of the ship.

For example, on Earth, we are moving around the Sun at a high speed, yet, if am sitting in a rolling office chair, I can accelerate my self by throwing a ball in the opposite direction, even though I can't throw as fast as the Earth is moving. There is no universal reference frame with respect to speed, so away from any nearby objects like planets, there is no difference in physics between objects moving at different linear speeds.

Re: That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#43508161)

Actually, according to Einstein, there is a universal reference to speed.

Warp is fine... (4, Informative)

TrekkieGod (627867) | 1 year,5 days | (#43488037)

IN real life even if we could travel at Warp speeds, there's hardly any planets - that we know of today - that can support life within a lifetime of Warp travel. Eight times - TEN times the speed of light is not good enough, I'm afraid.

We need THOUSANDs of times the speed of light to have a Star Trek or Star Wars type of intergalactic society.

Warp factors in Star Trek are not linear. The actual scales very a bit, and they're not always consistent between episodes and given distances + ETA, but if you take a look at the TNG section [memory-alpha.org] , warp 1 is the speed of light, but warp 2 is the 10x the speed of light, warp 3 is roughly 39x the speed of light, and by the time you get to warp 9 we're talking 1,516x the speed of light. So, with Star Trek, the scientific advisors to the writers know that.

Re:That's nice... (1)

CanEHdian (1098955) | 1 year,4 days | (#43489681)

IN real life even if we could travel at Warp speeds, there's hardly any planets - that we know of today - that can support life within a lifetime of Warp travel

What do you call "a lifetime"? Why do people not question "aging"? Why not grow to maturity (say 25 year-old) and then stay that way, basically forever? Right now people that support research into aging complain about the Earth not being able to support an ever-expanding population, etc. etc. And on the other hand people complain that things can't be done "in a lifetime".

If you are going to travel in space for an extended period of time, you will need a radiation-hardened body. Start researching. DNA re-sequencing nanites, etc.

Re:That's nice... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43492551)

"Vulcan was 26 light years away. In reality, how many planets that may under the most flexible standards support life within that distance?"

According to Kepler and collected data from all planets found it was estimated that at least 46% of M stars have a planetary system making 94% likely to find a earth like planet within 10LY (this for M-Stars only, not counting other star types).

Source: http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43493809)

Plants that support life are terraformed and seeded by GOD, you fool.

Re:That's nice... (1)

guruevi (827432) | 1 year,5 days | (#43486905)

And even looking at them now would put them at the end of the Roman empire and the beginning of the Byzantine (when Christianity became more of a cult) to give you a reference point. We probably won't be receiving any radio transmissions (which would be the most likely evidence of an intelligent species) from them for another ~1000 years and that's if there is even an intelligent species there that developed as quickly as we humans did and even if they are sending out radio transmissions, would it be coming from the right direction, have enough power and linearity to be differentiated from background noise.

Re:That's nice... (2)

coastwalker (307620) | 1 year,5 days | (#43486937)

Their sun is 7 billion years old which puts the at a more developed state than our 4.8 billion year old system

Re:That's nice... (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | 1 year,5 days | (#43486941)

All of that assumes that life developed there like it did here, and started at the same time. For all we know their intelligent species could have been going for 10 million years before hominids showed up here. Those planets might as well be a billion years older. Maybe the planets have far more natural resources than Earth, and they never entered large wars like we did here. There's no reason to assume that we are looking at a planet that has a civilization on it equivalent to our civilization 1200 years ago, just because it's in the habitable zone of its star.

Re:That's nice... (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | 1 year,5 days | (#43486967)

To add to that, Wikipedia lists the age of the parent star at 7 billion years, plus or minus 4 billion. It could easily be twice as old as the sun.

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43486957)

Right, because all planets share a historical timeline identical to Earth's, that started at the same time.

Ok, no intelligent life in your post, on to the next one.

Re:That's nice... (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | 1 year,5 days | (#43486999)

And even looking at them now would put them at the end of the Roman empire and the beginning of the Byzantine (when Christianity became more of a cult) to give you a reference point. We probably won't be receiving any radio transmissions (which would be the most likely evidence of an intelligent species) from them for another ~1000 years and that's if there is even an intelligent species there that developed as quickly as we humans did and even if they are sending out radio transmissions, would it be coming from the right direction, have enough power and linearity to be differentiated from background noise.

You're forgetting something. The Earth is approximately 4 billion years old, but the Universe is almost 14 billion years old. That means there should be planets out there that are much older than Earth. So, you could have a planet that evolved at the same pace as Earth, but started millions (or hundreds of millions) of years earlier.

Re:That's nice... (1)

bbelt16ag (744938) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487319)

ok stop kidding your self. look around we are killing everything in sight. we pollute our own world. we are killing the most precious thing in the universe, life, at break neck speeds. If i were an alien i wouldnt stop here if it was the last out post on life in the universe, except for to steal the precious species that are not like us on this planet. Futhermore if we as so much get out of our solor system i be they would send a big rock toward us or blow up our sun. We are a cancer to this planet,and if we don't stop it we wont be going ANY WHERE EVER!

Re:That's nice... (3, Insightful)

the gnat (153162) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487861)

If i were an alien i wouldnt stop here if it was the last out post on life in the universe, except for to steal the precious species that are not like us on this planet. Futhermore if we as so much get out of our solor system i be they would send a big rock toward us or blow up our sun

What makes you so certain that intelligent, technologically capable alien races don't go through the same problems that we do? At a minimum, it is likely that interstellar travel requires mastery of nuclear energy and metallurgy across the entire periodic table, with all of the environmental risks that implies. Additionally, just to get to the point where they could develop nuclear power would likely require a period of industrialization using cruder organic sources of energy. It's very hard to imagine accomplishing this without any environmental degradation. Given the number of possible ecological catastrophies that could happen along the way, I think we're actually doing reasonably well so far.

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43490317)

ok stop kidding your self. look around we are killing everything in sight. we pollute our own world. we are killing the most precious thing in the universe, life, at break neck speeds.

There is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine. Not even Earth is large enough to function as a closed system forever. (And even if it were it fall under the sun surface when the sun expands.)
It is safe to say that once a civilization gets advanced enough they will try to harvest as much of the usable resources from inhabitable or soon to be inhabitable planets as possible and move on.
But you might be right, if they are as intolerant of other ways of thinking as you then there will probably be an interstellar war.

Re:That's nice... (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487713)

And even looking at them now would put them at the end of the Roman empire and the beginning of the Byzantine (when Christianity became more of a cult) to give you a reference point. We probably won't be receiving any radio transmissions (which would be the most likely evidence of an intelligent species) from them for another ~1000 years and that's if there is even an intelligent species there that developed as quickly as we humans did and even if they are sending out radio transmissions, would it be coming from the right direction, have enough power and linearity to be differentiated from background noise.

You're forgetting something. The Earth is approximately 4 billion years old, but the Universe is almost 14 billion years old. That means there should be planets out there that are much older than Earth. So, you could have a planet that evolved at the same pace as Earth, but started millions (or hundreds of millions) of years earlier.

Technically, planets don't evolve, they form. But regardless, whether or not there is life on a planet does not depend on how old it is. Mars and Earth are both the same age and both in the goldilocks zone and yet one has life and one does not.

It is far simpler ot come up with all the obstacles to life evolving on a planet than the likelihood of all the right things happening at the right moment for life to actually evolve on a planet. Obviously, we are here, so it can happen, but it is not as simple as a rock in space with some water on it.

Re:That's nice... (1)

rossdee (243626) | 1 year,4 days | (#43489537)

"You're forgetting something. The Earth is approximately 4 billion years old, but the Universe is almost 14 billion years old. That means there should be planets out there that are much older than Earth."

But the earliest stars only had hydrogen to work on, and wouldn't have had any rocky planets. You have to wait for second and third generation stars (and their systems) before you get the heavy elements (anything heavier than iron has to be formed in a supernova)

It may be possible to have life (as we know it, Jim) without elements heavier than iron, but i don't think you could get a technological advanced species that could get to other stars.

Of course that still leaves plenty of time for cultures to be many millenia older and more advanced than us.

Re:That's nice... (0)

kilodelta (843627) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487341)

Never say never. Humanity has shown that first we try to observe it, then we invade it. And I know NASA actually had an FTL group in the 1990's, and still has research going on Alcubierre WARP. Imagine jumping 12 light years at a time. Say you could only do it once a day, but in 100 days you'd jump 1,200 light years. And the mass necessary - not a planet the size of Jupiter but instead a couple tons of mass.

Re:That's nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43488811)

consider the following:

Re:That's nice... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | 1 year,5 days | (#43488357)

That's cool, and I'm all for looking for these things, but I can't help but feel a little sad knowing we'll never get there to explore them, even with robots.

I think we'll get to exploring and colonizing other worlds, if we can get together as a race to do it. "The impossible" has been done by us time and time again. Airplane flight was once impossible, as was going to the moon. The impossible is just something that hasn't been done yet.

.

“Never say that you can't do something, or that something seems impossible, or that something can't be done, no matter how discouraging or harrowing it may be; human beings are limited only by what we allow ourselves to be limited by: our own minds. We are each the masters of our own reality; when we become self-aware to this: absolutely anything in the world is possible.

Master yourself, and become king of the world around you. Let no odds, chastisement, exile, doubt, fear, or ANY mental virii prevent you from accomplishing your dreams. Never be a victim of life; be it's conqueror.”

Mike Norton

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/impossible [goodreads.com]

Pack the car (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43486685)

With current technology that puts these planets a mere half million years away.

Re:Pack the car (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43486819)

Cool, we can get something there well before the sun gets large enough for the seas to boil away.

Re:Pack the car (1)

Imrik (148191) | 1 year,4 days | (#43491601)

If that's your constraint, this would probably be a bad place to go as the star is older than ours.

Terrestrial Planet Finder (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43486737)

Cool! Kepler finds planets by observing the slight dimming of a star when a planet transits in front of it. Which means that it only finds planets that are lined up right to see this from our point of view. Only a small fraction of planets will be lined up this way. So there are good odds that there are terrestrial planets much closer to us. It'd be nice if something like the Terrestrial Planet Finder could be built. That would find planets at any orbital inclination. Then we could build something big enough to do spectroscopic observation of these planets to find out if their atmospheres actually do have water. Probably have to build that one on the moon.

Kepler will tell us planet statistics (1)

peter303 (12292) | 1 year,4 days | (#43493893)

Early results indicate at least a third of solar systems with stable stars (over billion years) possess planets. And on average there seem to be as many attached planets as stars in our galaxy. Keplers method can only see somewhere between a half percent to one percent of possible solar systems. And only planets with orbits less than five years. But they are observing a huge number of stars.
Plus NASA is on the verge of approving a "super Kepler" for the 2020s that can observe several percent of the sky instead of the quarter percent Kepler looks at now.

there are dozens of clever probe proposals (1)

peter303 (12292) | 1 year,4 days | (#43493931)

The problem is that NASA can only fund a small handful each decade. And this before proposed federal austerity programs which would cut much more.

power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (1)

coastwalker (307620) | 1 year,5 days | (#43486747)

Cant find any calculations on the power level or bandwidth of a detectable signal - Seti Institute dont have anything. Any takers on an estimate?

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43486809)

With three planets in the habitable range, I estimate they'll have in-system interplanetary travel and cyborgs long before our colony ships can get there. And more importantly, Musk Cats [gawkerassets.com] .

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (1, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | 1 year,5 days | (#43486991)

As I said above, the current transmissions we may be receiving puts them somewhere in the beginning of the middle ages. We have only been transmitting stuff out that may be strong enough to be detected for ~100 years.

The Pioneer's have a transmitter of about 8W and are 0.001 lightyears away and one of them is dead, the other is barely discernible. If we take a very generous estimate and say maybe 5kW can be detected at 1ly - you will need several TW to be detectable that far. Not necessarily impossible but very unlikely.

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (4, Interesting)

zzyzyx (1382375) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487017)

Interesting question. I'll try: we're just barely able to detect the signal from Voyager 1, which is currently about 18.4 billion km, or 0.0019 light-year away. I couldn't find the exact emission power from the antenna, but the Wikipedia page mentions that the electric generator has around 250W of power. Let's say 200W of that go in the antenna. Translating this to 1200 ly, using the 1/r^2 rule, gives about 76 TW.

That's a lot, about 5 times the total average energy consumption of the World, but not out of the realm of possibilities. So if there was an advanced civilization with a lot of energy and a very big, very directive antenna that desperately wanted to talk to us, we might just be able to pick it up.

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43487181)

It's interesting that "everyone" seems to be looking at propulsion systems for an interstellar probe, but a way to get the data back is just as important. How about very powerful masers/lasers at convenient frequencies, with detection equipment in space?

Note: if it's about the ultimate survival of the species homo sapiens sapiens and the preservation of our combined scientific knowledge and culture, 1,200ly is nothing and cost no objection but hopefully something closer to home can be found.

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (1)

symbolset (646467) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487897)

So far as we know at the moment laser is the best method for interstellar communications. As far as propulsion direct thermal powered by fusion is looking likely. Both of these are very hard to see with the sun as a backdrop. For comms a fusion-powered laser relay on Pluto would probably do the trick. But who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43490881)

It's interesting that "everyone" seems to be looking at propulsion systems for an interstellar probe, but a way to get the data back is just as important. How about very powerful masers/lasers at convenient frequencies, with detection equipment in space?

Or we can solve it the way we have done on earth for decades. We set up repeaters.
Every ten years or so you send a new probe that just resends the signal it gets from the first probe.
If you can afford the space for the extra fuel you can even stop the repeaters once they have reached far enough to create an interstellar "wire".

We've been sending detectable signals for 60yrs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43489131)

We started with a couple "taps" on August 6th and 9th, 1945... with quite a few more since then. Might not have been a coherent message though.

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (2)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487091)

Just take the flux limit of the telescope you are using. Multiply by 4*pi*distance^2 (the area of emitting sphere), and the duration of observation, and you have the power you need to put in at the emitter (assuming an uncollimated emitter, without any atmospheric loss -- which is acceptable in radio).

Lets assume 15 mJy for the Allen Telescope Array used by SETI, and 1 hour of observation. That gives you 70 MW [wolframalpha.com] to emit. The Arecibo Message [wikipedia.org] sent in 1974 was 1 MW, others are at the 150 kW level.

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (2)

coastwalker (307620) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487263)

If the civilization is older than ours it may have detected our planet long ago and have a narrow beam width signal directed at us, a laser for example. This might affect the calculation about input power somewhat. Perhaps we should be thinking more about what power input we would need in a laser directed at them to be detected in 1200 years time using a laser? After all at 1200 light years distance they are never going to make it here using public transport to sell us fizzy drinks.

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487165)

It's 100 MYW:

Let's make a couple of quick assumptions:
1. Lossless, perfect vacuum.
2. Height difference = 0 and line of sight.
3. Minimum detectable = 1mW.
4. Omni-directional antenna, since they aren't aiming at us.
5. Let's also simplify by assuming there are no equipment or connector losses.
6. We'll also go with a 20MHz transmission.

P(rx) = P(tx) - L(fs)

L(fs) = 32.45 + 20 x log(20MHz ) + 20 x log (1.1 × 10^16 km)
380dB loss.

Heh, that converts to 100 x 10^30 W. It might get a little warm near the transmitter. Do we have an SI prefix for that high a number? Nope, looks like we go up to yotta at 10^24 and that's it. Unless we can use mega-yotta-watts. Sure, let's use those. 100 Mega-Yotta-Watts.

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (4, Interesting)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | 1 year,5 days | (#43488081)

Or, they could use a star itself and modulate the light coming from it, like stellar semaphore.

One method that has been proposed http://www.iterate.com.au/SETI/SETI.htm [iterate.com.au] uses a swarm of self-replicating robots. Given raw materials to work with it could in time create a large enough structure or cloud in front of the star so as to be able to send a signal to a large percentage of the heavens. This would be detectable over much greater distances than 1200 ly.

Re:power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43488401)

What a perfect train wreck of misunderstanding free space path loss. Wow.

Hint: by your calculations, most of the stars in the sky would be invisible at night to our most sensitive instruments at 20MHz, yet our pathetic human eyes can see thousands of them emitting around 500 THz (visible light).

Re: power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly (1)

smaddox (928261) | 1 year,4 days | (#43489567)

A targeted transmission search would almost certainly use directed, non-diffracting beams (they exist - google it). Meaning the necessary power would be dramatically dropped, because they would only transmit to a small number of star systems that have a chance of hosting life.

However, it's fairly likely that an advanced civilization would use neutrinos, or some other weakly interacting matter, for interstellar communications, rather than simple electromagnetic waves. Non-the-less, life is out there - like it or not. Maybe not close enough for you to meet it in your lifetime, but it's out there.

Re: power level of a detectable signal at 1200 ly (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43496865)

Non-the-less, life is out there - like it or not.

What's your take on other unproven things, oh wise sage? Whether or not life exists anywhere but here is completely unknown. The only thing we know about RT is that we have yet to see any proof whatever that life is anywhere but here.

I'd agree that the odds that we're alone are slim, but your faith is strong, young padawan!

It would be ironic if you were one of those athiests who are sure there are no gods.

Astronomy question (2)

maroberts (15852) | 1 year,5 days | (#43486947)

The various methods of detecting planets are improving but....

How long is it, if ever, before we are going to have a telescope that can definitively tell us that a planet has an atmosphere containing oxygen and large amounts of water?

Re:Astronomy question (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43487261)

We're very close already; we don't need to see the planet visually to determine those things, we only need to get an accurate spectra during a transit. Molecules in the atmosphere will absorb certain wavelengths, and the remainder will get to us. Match molecules to the gaps in the spectrum, and there's your answer.

Re:Astronomy question (1)

coastwalker (307620) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487281)

The plans are on the drawing board right now, if you are young enough and the economy doesn't totally crap out the findings from Kepler should see them built in your very own lifetime..

already been done (1)

peter303 (12292) | 1 year,4 days | (#43493985)

At the Long Beach AAS meeting this year a group successfully teased an atmospheric spectrum from a "reverse transit", that is when the planet goes BEHIND the star. This method assumes most of the time you observe the planets and stars combined spectrum, except during reverse transit.

H2O Obsession.. (1)

angiasaa (758006) | 1 year,5 days | (#43486951)

..are fortuitously positioned for water, if any exists, to remain liquid on their surfaces — a condition believed to be necessary for life..

I find it frustrating that with so many capable biologists on our planet, we have an obsessive belief in the theory that life cannot evolve or exit on planets where liquid water is available. I think it's a despicable thought process that's in desperate need of modification.

Re:H2O Obsession.. (2)

zzyzyx (1382375) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487077)

Life based on liquid water is the only one that we know of. Maybe other forms of life are possible, but we don't know what they are, so we can't search for them.

Re:H2O Obsession.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43487137)

OK I'll bite....so whats your alternative theory?? I don't mean some random molly induced hallucination, I mean a true theory/corollary or whatever, not some meaningless male cow poop.....

Re:H2O Obsession.. (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487569)

Science is testing ideas with experiment and observation. Until we OBSERVE life that can evolve or exist without water, then speculation is non-scientific.

Re:H2O Obsession.. (1)

the gnat (153162) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487881)

I think it's a despicable thought process that's in desperate need of modification.

I think it's ridiculous that every time the subject of extraterrestrial life comes up, a dozen clueless people post the same objection as if it's some stunningly original insight that biologists have simply missed due to lack of imagination.

Re:H2O Obsession.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43488445)

  • 1. You cannot make long chain molecules with anything other than C, H and O. Go ahead, try to substitute some other atoms.
  • 2. These long chain molecules don't do anything interesting at all if not given liquid H20
  • 3. H2O has other unique properties, such as being strongly bipolar and also being less dense when solid than liquid which means it mixes like crazy instead of forming solid crud at the bottom like other compounds.
  • 4. Earth has all kinds of crazy compounds lying around. Not one of them has managed to form life other than carbon/water.

If you can come up with some other chemistry that works, go on and tell us. We're all ears. Tell us how liquid methane can form complex compounds. Believe me, you'll have a Nobel prize in record time.

Re:H2O Obsession.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43489393)

  • 1. You cannot make long chain molecules with anything other than C, H and O. Go ahead, try to substitute some other atoms.
  • 2. These long chain molecules don't do anything interesting at all if not given liquid H20
  • 3. H2O has other unique properties, such as being strongly bipolar and also being less dense when solid than liquid which means it mixes like crazy instead of forming solid crud at the bottom like other compounds.
  • 4. Earth has all kinds of crazy compounds lying around. Not one of them has managed to form life other than carbon/water.

If you can come up with some other chemistry that works, go on and tell us. We're all ears. Tell us how liquid methane can form complex compounds. Believe me, you'll have a Nobel prize in record time.

Yet you (and others) base your fun little list on the assumption that you are aware of all natural occurring elements in the entire universe and that all "life" occurs using the same method/process. Your limited understanding is based on the sliver of observation that has occurred on this rock and a "few" rocks from space.

You people remind me of some of the "scientists" in the past that thought the earth was flat, or that the other planets revolved around the Earth...

Re:H2O Obsession.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#43489595)

Yup, I must say you have totally and completely convinced me!

All zero of your very insightful and well thought out explanations has so thoroughly countered all of the observed evidence and current examples that it would be nothing short of ridiculous to not disregard everyone else and base all of our future predictions on your very elegantly worded theories.

Please subscribe me to your news letter!

Is this just a curiosity or a long-range plan? (0)

boddhisatva (774894) | 1 year,5 days | (#43487145)

Traveling at 1/10 of the speed of light it would take 12,000 years to get there, not counting acceleration and deceleration at start and arrival (dropping out of warp isn't that easy). Before doing anything radical maybe we should phone ET and see if he's home. I think this stuff is great because it motivates young people to excel in their education. But we've got at least 3 billion people who can't read and write much less solve integrals. They are poorly fed, their drinking water is killing them and they don't get medical care and die of diseases that we cure with 4 tablets of an antibiotic. We need to get everyone up to speed to have the resources of the entire world to have the enormous economy required to support such an effort.

WTF is that CNN article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43487601)

Makes no sense.

E.g. "It drops by a factor of 5". What does? Completely out of context.

And the smallest planet probably doesn't have a rocky surface because it's more like Venus? Wut! ?

No such thing as the 'Habitable Zone' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#43487659)

We don't know why Ice-Ages happen. We don't know why the atmosphere of the Earth has changed so radically across time. We don't know why the magnetic field of the Earth switches and sometimes vanishes. We know jack-s**t basically when it comes to the 'big picture', and yet betas are constantly told that space 'science' is accurate and reliable.

Here's a clue. Every prediction about every aspect of our Solar System has proven horribly incorrect everytime our technology has improved our ability to examine our solar system more closely. Space science is essentially outrageous extrapolation from very dubious data sets. What use are scientific models that prove so unreliable in a given field of science. Today's space science has all the value of medieval books from Europe on medicine. Sometimes you exist in a time period where lots of highly regarded 'experts' in a field actually know almost nothing about the subject they claim expertise in. Because their claims are largely untestable in their lifetime, they get to keep their reputation.

The 'habitable zone' is crude religion posing as science. You know all that crap about "god making Man is his image". Well, that rubbish, brainwashed into the heads of all betas that belong to organised religions, forms the philosophical basis of their scientific understanding as well.

Let me make it easy for you betas. Our understanding of 'life' has but one sample- our planet. Statistically, you cannot extrapolate from this. Then there is the track record of space science in general- it is the worst track record imaginable. We do not have the first clue about the why, how, or when of any major factor within our solar system. We do not know how we got such a remarkably 'convenient' moon, or the importance such a moon plays to life on Earth, but we have lots of suspicions. Finding such incredible amounts of water on Mars contradicted EVERYTHING we thought we knew about that planet.

We understand the greater Universe, when it comes to theories about extra-terrestrial life, just about as well as the isolated primitive peoples of South America understood about other Human life on the Earth. Worse infact- our fairytales about the 'big bang' (creationist rubbish) and 'habitable zones' (Man made in the image of god rubbish) are far less excusable.

If life is widespread in our galaxy, then a simple though experiment will inform you that we are artificially denied knowledge of this fact, for whatever reason, by the most powerful authorities arising from this extra-terrestrial life. Given the state of our technology versus theirs, it would be child's play to ensure, for instance, that the electro-magnetic signals that may be detectable from similar primitive cultures like ours would be blocked before they reach the Earth. Given our physical inability to travel beyond our own solar system, all we have to learn about existence beyond our home system is the electro-magnetic radiation entering our system from beyond (yeah, other particles get through, but are vanishing small in number by comparison). In other words, we watch a giant spherical TV set, and hope that everything it shows us is 'truthful'.

Until Man finally lands on Mars, we'll learn almost nothing about the truth of that planet (but organised religion is very reluctant to have the betas given proof of extraterrestrial life, which is why un-manned Mars probes never carry a petri dish and microscope). Until Man makes the effort to travel beyond our Solar System, we won't learn the truth about life in the greater galaxy (and being finally able to escape our Solar System will, no doubt, be the trigger that causes the greater authorities to finally introduce themselves). All we can do in our lifetime is watch whether the sensible private plans to send people on a one-way trip to Mars get sabotaged under one excuse or another. The churches of the great organised religions are far more powerful than 99.99% of you realise, and nothing significant happens without their permission.

 

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