“We give off waste heat (from industry and homes and so on) and artificial light at night, but perhaps most significantly, we produce chemicals that fill our atmosphere with compounds that wouldn’t otherwise be present. These artificial atmospheric constituents just might be the thing that gives us away to a distant alien species scanning the galaxy with their own powerful telescope.”
On the scorching hot planet, hundreds of light-years away, oceans are made of molten lava, winds reach supersonic speeds and rain is made of rocks. Scientists have referred to the bizarre, hellish exoplanet as one of the most “extreme” ever discovered.
According to NASA estimates there are at least 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, of which about 4 billion are sunlike. If only 7 percent of those stars have habitable planets — a seriously conservative estimate — there could be as many as 300 million potentially habitable Earths out there in the whole Milky Way alone.
It takes a while to collect, sort through, analyze, write up, endure peer review, and publish data from scientific projects.
That’s why finally we’re seeing this, 11 years after Kepler was launched to scour the galaxy for exoplanets.
Now the real challenge will be figuring out how to get there…
It’s time to move on the next factor in the Drake equation for extraterrestrial civilizations: the fraction of these worlds on which life emerges. The search for even a single slime mold on some alien rock would revolutionize biology, and it is a worthy agenda for the next half-century as humans continue the climb out of ourselves and into the universe in the endless quest to end our cosmic loneliness.
It’s possible our galaxy is filled to the brim with these rogue planets, but this one is particularly unusual for one special reason: it is the smallest found to date — even smaller than Earth — with a mass similar to Mars.
If you find a big rock in your backyard, and you can’tbreak it open with normal tools, guess what?
The researchers argue that the Maryborough meteorite is much rarer than gold. It’s one of only 17 meteorites ever recorded in the Australian state of Victoria, and it’s the second largest chondritic mass, after a huge 55-kilogram specimen identified in 2003.
This next bit is more interesting to me:
“Other rare meteorites contain organic molecules such as amino acids; the building blocks of life.”
Do they have atmospheres and how thick are they? What kind of clouds? Do they possess oceans on their surface? Do they have rings and moons? Cheops ought to be able to address such questions just from looking for these tiny dips in light during a transit.
ESA finally does something! Wow. Go Europe!
I love how BBC says “The Americans” when referring to NASA, as if a) American is an ethnic group and b) all NASA scientists are American.
Prof Didier Queloz, who won this year’s Physics Nobel for discovering the first planet orbiting a Sun-like star in 1995, was on hand to watch the launch.
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