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Are we alone in the Universe or there is Alien life? Astronomers spot nearby Star with seven Earth-size Planets

astronomers have spotted a nearby star with seven Earth-size planets which could harbour liquid water, key to life as we know it, NASA said.

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What will happen to exploration missions if NASA runs out of fuel? Wikimedia
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Washington, Feb 23, 2017: In a remarkable step towards answering the question “Are we alone in the universe”, astronomers have spotted a nearby star with seven Earth-size planets which could harbour liquid water, key to life as we know it, NASA said.

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius.

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All of these seven planets could have liquid water under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with three of the plants which are located in the habitable zone, according to the researchers.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile.

“The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star,” said Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium.

“It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds,” Gillon said.

In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system.

Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, NASA’s Spitzer space telescope confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated.

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky, according to the new results published on Wednesday in the journal Nature

Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surface.

The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated. But scientists believe it could be an icy, “snowball-like” world, but further observations are needed.

The discovery of the seven exoplanets sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system.

In contrast to our sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star — classified as an ultra-cool dwarf — is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system.

All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun.

The planets also are very close to each other. If a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighbouring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in the Earth’s sky, NASA said. (IANS)

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SpaceX launches Falcon 9 with first broadband internet satellites

According to the mission description, equipped with an advanced radar instrument, PAZ will cover the entire globe in 24 hours, serving both commercial and government needs

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The Falcon 9's first stage separates from the second stage moments after about two minutes from liftoff.
The Falcon 9's first stage separates from the second stage moments after about two minutes from liftoff. Wikimedia Commons
  • A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 4E
  • The launch’s primary mission is to deliver PAZ, a radar-imaging satellite, into orbit for the Spain-based company Hisdesat
  • The company has been relatively mum about the debut of its Starlink satellites, and about the entire programme itself

SpaceX has completed another launch of its Falcon 9 rocket with first two prototype satellites of its global broadband internet-in-space project, Starlink, successfully deployed in orbit.

A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 4E at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Falcon 9’s first stage separates from the second stage moments after about two minutes from liftoff.

The launch’s primary mission is to deliver PAZ, a radar-imaging satellite, into orbit for the Spain-based company Hisdesat.

“Successful deployment of PAZ satellite to low-Earth orbit confirmed,” the California-based company confirmed.

“First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, deployed and communicating to Earth stations,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the mission description, equipped with an advanced radar instrument, PAZ will cover the entire globe in 24 hours, serving both commercial and government needs. Designed for a mission life of five and a half years, PAZ will orbit Earth 15 times per day, covering an area of over 300,000 sq. km from an altitude of 514 km and a velocity of seven km per second.

However, Paz was not riding alone on the recycled Falcon 9. Quietly on board were SpaceX’s two experimental broadband satellites, Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, a big first step in SpaceX’s long-term plan to create satellite internet over the next decade.

The company has been relatively mum about the debut of its Starlink satellites, and about the entire programme itself.

Also Read: Elon Musk Unveils Plans to put Humans on Mars by 2024

“The Falcon launch carries 2 SpaceX test satellites for global broadband. If successful, Starlink constellation will serve least served,” Musk said on Wednesday.

According to the open files between SpaceX and the U.

S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in the coming years, the private U. S. space firm hopes to create a giant constellation of about 12,000 of interlinked broadband-internet satellites that will orbit in a synchronized dance above the Earth, delivering broadband access anywhere in the world.

A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 4E at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.
A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 4E at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. Wikimedia Commons

Some 4,425 satellites will sit at low earth orbit (LEO), an estimate of 1,150 to 1,325 km above the Earth, while another 7,518 satellites will be launched into very-low-earth orbits (VLEO), some 335 to 346 km above the Earth.

According to a tally by the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are 1,738 satellites currently orbiting the Earth.

Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave his endorsement to SpaceX’s application to operate two huge constellations of broadband satellites.

Falcon 9’s first stage for the mission previously supported the FORMOSAT-5 mission from SLC-4E in August 2017. SpaceX didn’t attempt to recover Falcon 9’s first stage after Thursday’s launch because it “was an older version booster.”

Also Read: NASA’s Kepler Discovers Nearly 100 New Exoplanets

However, there is another heightened interest in this launch.

By using “Mr. Steven,” a large navigable platform ship with extended “arms” and a net strung between them, SpaceX was trying to “catch” at least one of the two payload fairings that enclose the satellite at the top of the rocket.

These fairings were separated from the rocket at about three minutes after launch.

The value of these fairings is about $6 million, and recovering and reusing them would save money for SpaceX. Currently, a typical Falcon 9 launch costs around $62 million. (IANS)