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highsea
09-01-2004, 06:30 AM
The World Today - Wednesday, 1 September , 2004 12:46:00
Reporter: Nick Grimm

<font color="blue"> You can skip most of this... </font color>

[ QUOTE ]
HAMISH ROBERTSON: The discovery of two new planets is causing immense excitement in the scientific community, with predictions that this could mark a giant leap forward in the search for alien life.

The announcement that two separate NASA teams have found the two smallest planets ever discovered outside our own galaxy has made the question of whether we are alone in the universe even more tantalising.

The smallest of the two is still 18 times larger than Earth, but the discovery means it's now much more likely that astronomers will soon find planets similar in size to our own, which are also more likely to present the necessary conditions for the existence of life.

As Nick Grimm now reports, the race to find Earth's twin is gathering pace.

NICK GRIMM: For years, teams of astronomers around the world have been peering deep into space searching for signs that could indicate that something might be out there… that's alive.

While some seek radio signals that might indicate intelligent alien life is trying to contact us, other scientists have been engaged in a more fundamental search for evidence of planets which could present the necessary preconditions for life – any kind of life – to exist.

GEOFFREY MARCY: Still to this day the only place on which we've found any evidence of life is right here on the earth. So we'd like to know whether life is common elsewhere in the universe, whether it indeed even exists.

NICK GRIMM: Astronomer, Geoffrey Marcy, from the University of California-Berkeley, is a member of one of the NASA teams who have just discovered two small nearby planets – the two smallest ever found outside or own galaxy.

GEOFFREY MARCY: The good news is all the ingredients for life are abundant in the universe; the chemicals on the periodic table are found everywhere in the universe, energy is abundant from stars – tidal, geothermal; water as a molecule is seen everywhere in our galaxy. And now we know that the Petrie dishes that the planets on which the mixer of water and these chemicals has to occur to allow life to spring forth.

So, we're getting closer to answering this golden question of whether there's life out there. It may be that in the next five, ten, twenty years, within our lifetimes, we will learn whether there are microbes out there, furry creatures on other planets, maybe even we will learn whether there's other intelligent civilizations out there. It would be very exciting.

NICK GRIMM: The two new planets are only 35 light years away, and lie in the constellations of Cancer and Leo. Only last week, a European team claimed to have spotted another new planet.

While they're the smallest we humans have so far found, they're in fact 15 to 20 times the mass of Earth, or roughly equivalent to Neptune.

But until now, astronomers' instruments have only been able to spot even larger planets, equivalent in size to the cosmic giant, Jupiter, which is a ball of super-hot gas. It's believed that life can only exist on smaller planets similar in size to Earth.

Paul Butler from the Carnegie Institution, believes the chance of finding planets like that is now much more likely.

PAUL BUTLER: We are looking to achieve much higher measurement precision. We would like to be able to make Neptune mass planet discoveries routine, and we would frankly like to be able to push down into the sort of the super-Earth regime of planets that would be ten Earth masses or less.

And we would like to do that long before any of the upcoming space missions gets launched, so that by the end of the decade, we'll be able to say something about the existence of super-Earths and what that might in an extrapolated sense, what that might tell us about the prevalence of Earths.

NICK GRIMM: In the next two decades, NASA plans to launch new space observatories which will enable astronomers to obtain sharper views of the heavens, and hopefully locate even more new planets.

The first such probe, dubbed the Kepler Observatory, is scheduled to be launched in three years.

Anne Kinney is NASA'S science mission director.

ANNE KINNEY: This is a very, very important suite of missions that will ultimately lead to a much better understanding of the question: are we alone in the universe?

GEOFFREY MARCY: Indeed the real golden question, of course, is whether or not there's life elsewhere in the universe.

NICK GRIMM: And as Geoffrey Marcy points out, it's a search which could also help we Earthlings to find out more about the mystery of life here on our own planet.

GEOFFREY MARCY: And I think the reason we do all of this is that we're trying to find out whether or not life is common, and hence reflect back on us. We're trying to find our own roots – chemically and biologically – among the stars.

HAMISH ROBERTSON: Pushing forward the frontiers of our knowledge of space, that was Geoffrey Marcy, from the University of California at Berkeley. Nick Grimm compiled that report.<hr /></blockquote>

http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2004/s1189775.htm

Lol, I just love this stuff.
[ QUOTE ]
The announcement that two separate NASA teams have found the two smallest planets ever discovered outside our own galaxy has made the question of whether we are alone in the universe even more tantalising.

NICK GRIMM: Astronomer, Geoffrey Marcy, from the University of California-Berkeley, is a member of one of the NASA teams who have just discovered two small nearby planets – the two smallest ever found outside or own galaxy.

NICK GRIMM: The two new planets are only 35 light years away, and lie in the constellations of Cancer and Leo. Only last week, a European team claimed to have spotted another new planet. <hr /></blockquote>

Hahaha, our galaxy is 100,000 light years across and 20,000 light years deep.

http://www.seds.org/messier/more/mw.html

[ QUOTE ]
So, we're getting closer to answering this golden question of whether there's life out there. It may be that in the next five, ten, twenty years, within our lifetimes, we will learn whether there are microbes out there, furry creatures on other planets, maybe even we will learn whether there's other intelligent civilizations out there. It would be very exciting.<hr /></blockquote> I like the furry creatures thing. It would be very exciting!

-CM

eg8r
09-01-2004, 07:44 AM
[ QUOTE ]
I like the furry creatures thing. It would be very exciting!
<hr /></blockquote> Yeah, that would be exciting. Maybe while they are at it, they can get some proof that those furry creatures and rocks all come from a banana. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I love reading about space and all the "new" things they find. Thanks for the article.

eg8r &lt;---Ability to run 3 racks is only 35 light years away

highsea
09-01-2004, 08:00 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote eg8r:</font><hr>Maybe while they are at it, they can get some proof that those furry creatures and rocks all come from a banana. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif <hr /></blockquote>Haha. Ed, the proof is on the way! Ever notice how bananas are pointy at each end and thicker in the middle?? Coincidence? I don't think so!

-CM~~~makes you wonder.....about, er.. something..ANYWAY, bananas...bahahahaha /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

eg8r
09-01-2004, 09:53 AM
/ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

eg8r