Were there even suitable planets upon which life could survive?
Space news (February 03, 2015) 117 light-years away in the constellation Lyra –
Astronomers have often wondered if life could have evolved in the early universe? Space scientists using data provided by NASA’s Kepler mission recently discovered a planetary system containing as many as five earth-sized planets that formed when the universe was two billion years old.
The five earth-sized planets discovered orbit close to their home star in the star system called Kepler-444, range in size between Mercury and Venus. They also take less than ten days to complete each orbit, which means the weather on these planets is hotter and more extreme than any planet in our solar system.
Earth-based life would never survive on these planets unless of course, these planets were once further from their home star. If these planets were once located within the habitable zone of their home planet? It’s possible life once evolved and flourished on one or more of these early planets.
“While this star formed a long time ago, in fact before most of the stars in the Milky Way, we have no indication that any of these planets have now or ever had life on them,” said Steve Howell, Kepler/K2 project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “At their current orbital distances, life as we know it could not exist on these ancient worlds.”
Space scientists studying the age of planets within a star system measure small changes in the brightness of the parent sun produced by pressure waves within the star. These pressure waves result in small variations in star temperature and luminosity leading to very small changes in brightness. Asteroseismologists – asteroseismology is the study of the interior of suns – use these measurements to determine the diameter, mass, and age of the parent sun. The age of the planets within a star system is the same as the parent sun since they formed at about the same time.
The existence of earth-sized planets in the early universe indicates life could have evolved and survived. This news doesn’t tell us how common solar systems with planets of this size were, but it does mean the possibility existed.
Space scientists will now begin looking further back in time and at more early star systems to see if they can find more earth-sized planets life could have evolved on. Any intelligent life evolving in these planets would have long ago moved to another planet. Is it possible we could be descendants of life that evolved in the early universe? If any civilization had the time to develop the technology required to travel the universe and seed planets it would be one that developed on one of these early earth-sized planets.
For more information on NASA’s Kepler space mission go here.
The spectacular image, seen below, is a panoramic composed of 141 wide-angle images, showing us a view 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across of Earth, Venus, Mars, and Saturn and its moons and inner ring system. The image includes all of Saturn’s rings, including the E ring, which is the second ring from the outer edge of the planet’s rings (the distance between the Earth and the Moon would easily fit within the width of the E ring). “In this one magnificent view, Cassini has delivered to us a universe of marvels,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini’s imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. “And it did so on a day people all over the world, in unison, smiled in celebration at the sheer joy of being alive on a pale blue dot.”
Join the Wave at Saturn Campaign
This spectacular image of Saturn and its moons and rings is part of NASA’s “Wave at Saturn” campaign, which invited people around the United States and the world to take part in a celebration and party on July 19. NASA asked people to take the time to find Saturn in the sky in their part of the world. To say hello to Cassini and the ringed planet by waving across the solar system and loading any pictures they take onto the Internet to be shared with the world. A fun and social way to join the human journey to the beginning of space and time.
The image above shows Earth as the bright blue dot located to the lower right of Saturn. Venus isn’t easily seen in this image and is the bright dot located to the upper left of the giant planet, while Mars is the faint red dot to the left and above Venus. Viewers with good eyes should be able to view seven of Saturn’s moons in the image, including amazing Enceladus just to the left. Take a closer look and you should see icy plumes flying out from Enceladus’s south pole region, which provides the fine, grain-sized icy dust that makes up the E ring.
Saturn’s E-Ring is Visible
Saturn’s E ring appears like a halo surrounding the planet and its inner rings, and the best view of this area is provided by light shining from behind the planet. Astronomers studying Saturn and its rings used enhanced computer programs to improve the contrast and color balance of the pictures. This allowed them to pick out detailed data and evidence which made it possible to trace out the full orbits of smaller moons like Anthe and Methone, for the first time in the history of the human journey to the beginning of space and time. “This mosaic provides a remarkable amount of high-quality data on Saturn’s diffuse rings, revealing all sorts of intriguing structures we are currently trying to understand,” said Matt Hedman, a Cassini participating scientist at the University of Idaho in Moscow. “The E ring shows patterns that likely reflect disturbances from such diverse sources as sunlight and Enceladus’ gravity.”
The astronomers in charge of Cassini usually don’t try to use the instrument to image Earth very often because an unobstructed view of the sun will damage sensitive equipment on the spacecraft. Astronomers had to wait until the sun was hidden behind Saturn, in relation to Cassini, which occurred on July 19, before taking images of Earth and its moon, and the backlit panoramic picture above. “With a long, intricate dance around the Saturn system, Cassini aims to study the Saturn system from as many angles as possible,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Beyond showing us the beauty of the Ringed Planet, data like these also improve our understanding of the history of the faint rings around Saturn and the way disks around planets form — clues to how our own solar system formed around the sun.”
Cassini has been exploring Saturn and its local region for nine years to date, and NASA has indicated the spacecraft will continue its mission until at least 2017. We will bring you more images of Saturn and data concerning the planet as long as the human journey to Saturn continues.
The portion of the sky the Hubble Space Telescope is currently looking at is full of planets both big and small
Astronomy News – One of the greatest things about being an astronomer is the excitement of mystery and wonder you feel every time you discover something you never even suspected. This must have been the feeling running through the minds of astronomers looking at the data provided by the Hubble Space Telescope indicating the presence of planets around distant stars. The rush of adrenalin as they went over the data they had worked and waited for must have been truly euphoric.
What kind of planets would they find? Smaller rocky worlds like Earth, larger gas planets like Jupiter, or some unusual planet never before dreamed of. All of their hard work and dedication to the task-at-hand is about to open a door of discovery to worlds of wonder. Worlds with environments unlike anything we have experienced on Earth, where life we could never envision might have evolved. This is why astronomers spend countless days, weeks, months and ultimately lives studying the sky above our heads.
Astronomers see a sky full of planets
The small portion of the sky being studied by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope is full of planets. Some appear to be of a similar rocky composition to our home planet while others appear to be totally inhospitable to Earth-type life. Planets like Earth are thought to be mainly composed of rocky material, which is denser and thus heavier than the materials making up gas planets. The planets being found orbiting stars in the portion of the sky being surveyed by Hubble are helping to rewrite planet formation theory and other areas of astronomical study. Astronomers are finding planets of types they were expecting to find, and a few they weren’t expecting to see.
The first planets found by the Hubble Space Telescope were large gas giants, like Jupiter and Saturn, but more recent finds have included planets similar in size and possible composition to Earth. Astronomers want to study Earth-like planets in an effort to uncover more secrets concerning the birth of our own solar system and the planet, which could give us clues to the development and evolution of Earth-like life in our universe. More recent developments even include the first direct imaging of a planet orbiting a distant star.
The truly amazing part is Hubble is only surveying a portion of the sky with around 100,000 suns and we’re finding more and more planets as astronomers continue to refine their planet finding techniques and instruments. Once we extrapolate and calculate the number of possible planets, using the available data so far gathered, we find the number of possible planets to be beyond count.
Astronomers will use the James Webb Space Telescope to journey to the beginning of space and time
During the 2013 human space odyssey, astronomers explored a portion of the night sky with the Hubble Space Telescope and exclaimed. It’s full of planets! In the years ahead during the human journey to the beginning of space and time, we expect astronomers to discover undreamed-of worlds, revolving around suns we humans can’t even conceive of. Especially once the James Webb Space Telescope comes online we should expect to visit undreamed of planets.
Best to buckle your seatbelt and prepare for the ride of your life! The human journey to the beginning of space and time is about to take off to planets beyond imagination. In the months and years ahead we expect to visit worlds with environments we would find inhospitable at best. Worlds where human survival would be doubtful and any life we found would be unusual beyond imagination.
Click this link to watch a YouTube video on weird planets in the universe.
The human journey to the beginning of space and time begins
Astronomers watch the greatest show on Earth every night
Astronomy News ( 2013-10-15) – Walk out to the darkest star viewing spot you can find at dusk and take a seat, “The greatest show on Earth is about to begin!” Lay back on your cold seat and you become lost-in-space as you stare upwards at one of the first sights to greet human consciousness onto the stage upon awakening during the distant past. Close your eyes and let your mind boldly fly off into the night sky in search of new lands of promise warmed by alien suns. Stand upon undreamed landscapes straight out of the Twilight Zone and record ideas and thoughts that could alter the course of human history and open up avenues to undreamed of events. Human beings have looked skyward in wonder and awe for thousands of years and dreamed of voyaging to the lights in the night sky. Today humans dream of traveling to the nearest star in our sky and standing on alien landscapes which will alter human beings as a race and create history unlike anything dreamed of by science fiction writers.
Will human adventures travel across outer space to distant suns in search of answers to questions pondered throughout human history? Will human beings one day journey through the universe seeking the origins of human life or a suitable planet to call home? As Mr. Roddenberry points out, space will be one of the last frontiers of humankind. At the current rate of technological growth, it could be only a matter of time before human beings have the ability to travel across interstellar space looking for non-terrestrial life and the resources humans need to survive and prosper.
Space Exploration will be far more challenging than life on earth
Traveling across the vast stretches of outer space between Earth and a nearby star system will be far more challenging and dangerous to undertake then climbing the tallest mountain or sailing an unexplored ocean. The distances in both space and time involved in such voyages will require human beings to surmount technological and social obstacles unlike any experienced during life on planet Earth. During the past century, humans have designed and engineered mechanized devices capable of launching into outer space and crossed the short stellar distance between Earth and its moon. We have started to become acquainted with life-in-space and the challenges involved in space travel. During the next fifty years, mankind will travel into the solar system and start to develop the technology required to successfully travel to nearby star systems to begin life again under an alien sun.
Does mankind presently have the technology, will power, and resources to journey to a nearby star system? The answer at this point in human history is a realistic and resounding, “No!” Using a reaction engine similar to the liquid oxygen/hydrogen main engine of the space shuttle to travel to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, would require over 100 years and fuel tanks too big to carry. Nuclear powered propulsion using fusion or fission requires technology and radiation shielding presently unavailable in order for human beings to survive the journey. Doctors also have questions concerning the possible medical problems associated with long-term exposure to acceleration and deep space radiation, and the drag forces involved using this form of propulsion still have to be addressed. The often dreamed of, but at this point unrealized, warp drive will probably never make it off the pages of science fiction books and into the cold of deep space. Instead, it will be replaced by an undreamed of propulsion system allowing us to travel closer to the speed of light, or circumvent the universe’s speed limit using a new idea, yet to be conceived.
If mankind made traveling to the nearest star system the top priority during the years ahead what would be needed to make the journey a success? The answer to this question continues to change as scientists and engineers study the goal more. The closest alien sun to Earth is the Red Dwarf Proxima Centauri, which on average is the short stellar distance of just 4.22 light-years (24.7 trillion miles or 29.9 km) away. Traveling at the estimated speed of Voyager 1, around 37,000 mph, it would take a spaceship over 76,000 years to complete the journey. During this length of time, human beings would have long enough to evolve significantly in the new and alien environment of deep space. Would we recognize our human ancestors after 76,000 years evolving during a trip through outer space?
Proxima Centauri also has no known planets upon which humans could begin life again under an alien sun. This Red Dwarf star is also significantly cooler than our own sun, so the habitability of any existing alien worlds would be questionable at best. Optimistic humans point out that Proxima Centauri is part of a bigger star system, containing other possible candidates which could have habitable planets. This dim star is considered by many to be part of the bigger Alpha Centauri system, which includes the binary stars Alpha Centauri A and B, just 4.4 light-years from Earth. Astronomers and scientists have their doubts about the possibility of other habitable planets in this star system at this point. Instead, they point to star systems further out in deep space, which seem to offer a better possibility of habitable planets.
The stars can’t wait
If humans move to a new home circling an alien sun, we’ll do it in stages, beginning with the exploration of the solar system. The International Space Station will be the staging point for the next phase of the exploration of the solar system. From here we can reach outward into the solar system to see what mysteries and discoveries await us just beyond the visible horizon. We’ll need time to develop the technology required for interstellar space travel and the terraforming of alien worlds. In the meantime, we’ll continue to send out envoys and ambassadors in the form of unmanned spacecraft to nearby star systems within our reach. The first of these envoys of the human race, Voyager 1, has traveled a distance of around 11 billion miles during 35 years of continuous space travel. This puts Voyager 1 still firmly within the boundaries of the known solar system, which reaches some 4.6 trillion miles into cold space and the Oort Cloud on the fringes of our system of planets. Eventually, Voyager 1 will travel beyond the boundaries of the solar system and into interstellar space, and this is when the real human journey to the beginning of space and time begins.
Click this link to watch a YouTube video on the search for earth-like planets.
Astronomy instruments designed to study the sun are specially designed for the job
Astronomy News – Astrophysicists studying stars use the closest star to Earth as their main test subject, Sol. Astronomers met recently during the American Astronomical Society meeting on May 26 in Miami to discuss the usefulness and reliability of three new techniques being used by current solar scientists to delve into the mysteries of the sun. “Scientists hope these three new techniques will help them predict the future behavior of Sol and jet streams, rhythmic oscillations, and magnetic activity all hold promise for solar scientists peering into the depths of the sun.”
David H. Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center used the meridional flow scientists studying Sol associate with an increase in the intensity of the solar cycle of Sol, to make a prediction that Sol’s current cycle will peak around 2013, although he thinks this peak will be about half the size of the past three solar peaks.
Sol has been keeping astronomers busy lately
Sushanta Tripathy and Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory have been studying vibrations from Sol’s surface they call rhythmic oscillations. Their studies have found a strong correlation exists between rhythmic oscillations and the activity level of Sol. They used their data to show that during the present minimum activity period of Sol, a double minimum in solar activity occurred, which they think could in some way relate to Sol’s current in activity.
Julia Saba of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has been taking a look at the data collected concerning the activity of Sol’s magnetic field. Her work has helped her predict, up to 18 months ahead of time, when Cycle 24 would start, and to speculate that Cycle 24 will be weaker and longer in length than average.
The search for a new home for human life has started
Astronomy will be the next great science
Astronomy News – The search for planets capable of acting as a cradle for a new human genesis has begun. Astronomers are searching the night sky above you for planets circling distant stars within what space scientists refer to as a stars life-zone or habitable-zone. This zone is at an orbital distance from a star allowing for the formation of the elements necessary for Earth-based life to exist. In the search for planets capable of supporting Earth-based life, astronomers are mainly looking for water.
Only looking for planets with the elements we know can support Earth-based life could be putting human-made limitations on the search for habitable planets and the creation of life that will prevent us from seeing the whole picture. Life-on-Earth has always shown itself to be adaptable, unpredictable and totally uncontrollable, and the environments life could evolve in are probably beyond current human imagination. Space scientists conducting computer simulations of planetary systems indicate that the variables that determine the life-zone of a star and its suitability for human life are just being studied and discussed. Water could exist in a usable form for the creation of life during specific periods of time on a planet’s surface for Earth-like planets close to a Jupiter-size planet orbiting in a highly elliptical orbit. A description that fits many of the exoplanets discovered, so far, space scientists note.
Planets with the necessary ingredients to support human-based life are hard to find
A highly perturbed orbit could result in an Earth-like planet experiencing long time-periods of freezing and heating temperatures, with a period of ideal weather for the creation of life, squeezed in between. Hardly the ideal situation for human life and this simulation is only one of the possible exotic habitats we could find on our “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time”. Human life could be walking on planets in the centuries ahead where the length of a day varies wildly, the seasons are unrecognizable, and the year just seems to go on forever.
The crazy zoo-of-planets astronomers are discovering in the night sky is threatening to break the human-made shackles we have attempted to put upon them. The environmental conditions on one or some of these planets could one day provide the elements for a new human genesis that could shatter the foundations of belief systems across planet Earth. Environments capable of supporting human evolution and the development of higher life forms? Astronomers and space scientists have taken another step forward to discovering an answer to this question and astrobiologists are currently continuing the search for a second-Earth for humankind.
Astronomy buffs need to check out the Planetary Zoo
What do you think a little asteroid dust could tell us about the universe?
Astronomy gurus watched as it came back to Earth
Astronomy News – The return capsule of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s asteroid-hunting Hayabusa spacecraft splashed down safely near Australia on June 13. This marks the return of a space traveller that was launched in 2003 in order to journey to the small near-Earth asteroid 25143 Itokawa to bring back a sample of the asteroid’s surface. Hayabusa has been designed and engineered to fire a projectile into the surface of asteroid 25143 Itokawa and hopefully kick up dust that can be collected by Hayabusa’s onboard collection container. The only problem is space scientists don’t know yet if Hayabusa was able to accomplish its mission, but they remain hopeful the projectile was able to fire and the collection container store some dust for them to study. Any dust they find could still be Earth dust that somehow entered the collection container, so any material they find in the collection container will still have to be verified to be true asteroid dust.
Hayabusa’s mission was a success, even if the projectile didn’t fire and the collection container didn’t collect any dust because Japanese space scientists were able to conduct several other groundbreaking experiments. Stay tuned to “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time” in the days and weeks ahead in the century of the environment for new developments on this front.
Astronomy will be serious business during the next century
Journey to Red and Orange stars in September’s night sky
Fall is in full bloom in the Northern Hemispheres of planet Earth and lovers of the reds, oranges, and bright reds on the leaves of fall will enjoy the rich, warm and colorful hues in the night sky of September and October.
Astronomy News – If you’re heading out into the wild to enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty at this time of year? After a day walking through the forest watching the leaves on the trees turn color, from drab green to mixed shades of yellow, orange, and red. Take the time to lay back on the cold ground or your sleeping bag and check out the colors in the night sky. Even better, set up your binoculars or time machine to the stars, and enjoy the colors in the night sky by taking a journey to the beginning of space and time.”
Stargazers have witnessed the colorful displays in the night sky for generations and our ancestors surely spent many a night staring upwards in wonder at the various colors they could see in the night sky. It was 19th-century Irish astronomer John Birmingham, who first made note of the colorful hues of light in the night sky. His ideas and the thoughts of Danish astronomer Hans Schjellerup, who had compiled a catalog of red stars in 1866, were mentioned in Birmingham’s work “The Red Stars: Observations and Catalog”. This catalog contains a total of 658 red and orange stars colorful enough to delight the human senses and make your imagination dance a lively step.
Reading the introduction of Birmingham’s catalog of red and orange stars, one notes he mentions a region of space and time he refers to as “The Red Region”. This region includes parts of the Milky Way Galaxy, between Aquila, Lyra, and Cygnus, that are filled with orange and red stars that will make the eyes dance and entice the human imagination to create possibilities beyond anything we as humans have imagined.
The colors of astronomy in September are a highlight amateur astronomers will love
September is the perfect time for you to board your time machine to the stars and journey to the beginning of space and time to experience the Red Region. The Red Region will be well above the southern horizon once the sun goes down. This region of space and time has eye-gems for stargazers to view in September, with reds and oranges that will make lovers of fall smile, and turn up their color sensitivity. The colorful stars in the Red Region warm sequentially through spectral classes: G (yellow), K (orange), M (red) and rare carbon class C (deep red). Astronomers have subdivided star classes from 0 to 9, with a G9 star being a little closer to orange than yellow, and a K5 star having a color somewhere between orange and red.
All-star gazers will see varying hues of red, orange, and yellow during their journey to the beginning of space and time that will depend on each star gazers own particular biology. In fact, we all view color slightly differently, so individual star gazers shouldn’t rely on a star’s spectral class for a visual clue to a star’s true color. Take, for example, the strikingly colorful, double star Albireo (Beta Cygni) in Cygnus. Stargazers through the centuries have described its magnitude 3.1 K3 primary star as yellow, topaz, gold and orange. Its magnitude 5.1 B9 (blue-white) secondary star (34″ away) on the other hand, has been described as deep-blue, azure, sapphire and even green.
The perception of color for humans is subjective and depends on varying individual parameters that can also be a product of physiological and psychological effects, such as the strong contrasting colors of a double star, like Albireo. The colors star gazers view through their time machine to the stars can also be obscured by dust and pollutants in the air, which will redden a star’s color. Stars that are low on the horizon, in comparison to higher stars, will also appear redder to viewers, just like the sun turns redder as it falls toward the horizon.
Secure the Future of Astronomy by Opening Young Minds to the Possibilities in the Night Sky
Astronomy News – Show your children the possibilities of the cosmos before them –
Take a young mind on your “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time”, and you’ll be helping to secure the future of astronomy and possibly humankind. The young minds of the world are the future and will be making the important choices in the century of the environment. The experiences they undertake at this critical age will lay the foundation for everything they believe throughout their lives. Once they lay their head upon the cold earth and their mind embraces the immensity of the night sky above them. They’ll realize just how small and diminutive the Earth and life-on-earth really is, and the importance of protecting the planet, for all life.
Make it a family affair and take the wife and kids out into the wilderness. Set up your time machine to the stars and take the family on a “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time”. On a clear night, the night sky will open the young mind to the universe and the immensity of space and time. Point out larger, more visible celestial objects first, and then you can slowly introduce the harder to view celestial bodies as their mind begins to digest the information and grasp the concepts involved and their consciousness expands in response to the possibilities before their eyes.
Young astronomers are best suited for the journey
By opening a young mind to the universe in the night sky, you’re opening their consciousness to the possibilities before their eyes and helping them put everything in the universe in realistic proportion in their young minds, and you could be giving them a useful tool for survival in the battle for survival on planet Earth. At the same time, you’re helping to breathe life into astronomy, and contributing to the general understanding of the true role humans play and could play incoming cosmic events in the century of the environment.
Start with the basic celestial objects in the solar system, and save the longer space trips and abstract objects and concepts until a later time in your “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time“. Before you know it your young ones will be asking to journey to some far off part of the universe they have only heard mentioned in whispers, and their journey will really begin.
By taking a “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time” you could inadvertently be creating the desire to venture out into the universe to witness the awesomeness of the night sky in person and the birth of a space explorer that will alter the course of human history. Helping to protect the Earth, all living things, and shape the future of humankind, in your own little way.
Astronomy is still young and we need young minds for the next leg of the human journey to the beginning of space and time