Tag Archives | Earth

Hunt For Earth’s ‘Twin Planet’ Takes Leap Forward

240px-The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17The Telegraph reports that scientists are on the brink of discovering the first Earth-like planet outside the solar system:

Professor Michel Mayor, the scientist who led the team that identified the first extrasolar planet in 1995, believes a planet similar in size and composition to Earth will soon be found.

Prof Mayor, of Geneva University, said that the prospect of finding a planet habitable for humans had come a step closer through rapid technological advances allowing observation of planets outside the solar system.

Addressing a Royal Society conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme, he said: “The search for twins of Earth is motivated by the ultimate prospect of finding sites with favourable conditions for the development of life.
“We’ve entered a new phase in this search.”

More than 400 extroplanets have been discovered over the past 15 years, he added.

However, it is doubtful that any of these could be inhabited by humans because they are too large, Prof Mayor told the audience, which included representatives from Nasa, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs.

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Are Earth’s Oceans Made Of Extraterrestrial Material?

From Science Daily:

Contrary to preconceived notions, the atmosphere and the oceans were perhaps not formed from vapors emitted during intense volcanism at the dawning of our planet. Francis Albarède of the Laboratoire des Sciences de la Terre (CNRS / ENS Lyon / Université Claude Bernard) suggests that water was not part of the Earth’s initial inventory but stems from the turbulence caused in the outer Solar System by giant planets. Ice-covered asteroids thus reached the Earth around one hundred million years after the birth of the planets.

The Earth’s water could therefore be extraterrestrial, have arrived late in its accretion history, and its presence could have facilitated plate tectonics even before life appeared. The conclusions of the study carried out by Albarède feature in an article published on the 29 October 2009 in the journal Nature.

Space agencies have got the message: wherever there is life there has to be water.

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