Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Potentially habitable planet found"

This sounds promising, a planet that might actually be habitable.

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.


Until now, all 220 planets astronomers have found outside our solar system have had the "Goldilocks problem." They've been too hot, too cold or just plain too big and gaseous, like uninhabitable Jupiter.

The new planet seems just right — or at least that's what scientists think.

This new planet orbits the star Gliese 581, and it is simply called "581 c".

I hope more planets like this are found. Though it will take a lot of work and determination for humans to adapt to life on a new planet, I have no doubt such an adventure will eventually be borne out in humanity's future. After all, we are so adaptable, aren't we?

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