Searching for extraterrestrial life Nov 25, 2011 15:04:00 GMT 1
Post by uforn on Nov 25, 2011 15:04:00 GMT 1
Searching for extraterrestrial life
(CNN) - Is there life on other planets?
It's an age-old question we could soon have an answer to.
An extraterrestrial project, once backed by NASA, is now searching for signs of life.
Probes to mars, telescopes searching for other earths, listening for life out there. There's no proof yet, but the body of evidence is growing-- we are not alone.
"One thing that strikes you is that every time we learn something new about the universe, what we learn is that our situation doesn't seem to be all that special. And that suggests that life is not all that special either."
But, it is still just that, a guess, based in part on astronomy in overload... findings from telescopes like hubble, spitzer, chandra. New discoveries at a breathtaking rate revealing the sheer mind blowing grandeur of the universe. Consider these heavenly numbers just for a minute: perhaps one trillion galaxies in the universe. Stars you ask. Okay. how about three hundred sextillion? That's three followed by 23 zeros. So, where does that leave us with planets? More specifically, planets like our own.
"We're learning something that's of fundamental importance to mankind. How frequent are earths around other stars."
Bill Borucki is the principle investigator for NASA's Kepler Telescope. Its mission... find planets similar in size to the Earth orbiting their suns. So far, it has been successful beyond expectations. Of the 12 hundred planet candidates Kepler has found, nearly 70 are earth sized.
"The indication from the data that we have in hand is that small planets are common, that the galaxy makes them efficiently. So they're going to be abundant."
"The number is large enough so there must be billions of such planets in our galaxy. So that's been a very happy surprise."
How many are orbiting at just the right distance from the sun... to support life? more than 50 candidates found so far... where life might be possible. what kepler can't do is detect life. so, for now, that will remain just a guess.
You can join the search for alien life without even leaving your home, let alone the planet. The organization "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" (SETI) has a free screen saver you can download on your computer that analyzes radio telescope data whenever the screen saver is up. setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/