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Space Science

First Earth-Sized Exoplanet May Have Been Found 222

Posted by kdawson
from the but-not-as-we-know-it dept.
Adam Korbitz writes "New Scientist is reporting the extrasolar planet MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb — whose discovery was announced just last summer — may actually be the first truly Earth-sized exoplanet to be identified. A new analysis suggests the planet weighs less than half the original estimate of 3.3 Earth masses; the new estimate pegs the planet's size at 1.4 Earth masses. The planet orbits a small red dwarf star, some 3,000 light-years from here, at an orbital distance of 0.62 astronomical units, about the same distance as Venus from our sun. One significance of the planet's discovery is that it points to the probable ubiquity of smaller terrestrial planets in somewhat Earth-like orbits around red dwarf stars, the oldest and most numerous stars in the galaxy. Here is a video report from the discoverers."
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First Earth-Sized Exoplanet May Have Been Found

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  • by Vandil X (636030) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:07PM (#26523371)
    I know the use of the term 'Earth-sized' brings more views, but hopefully the non-science/tech people out there reading it will realize that that is just a physical comparison and not a suggestion that life is present.

    e.g. Venus is also 'Earth-sized' but is highly inhabitable (for life as we know it)
  • by azakem (924479) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:30PM (#26523605)
    You should probably pack now and get moving, I hear it's kind of a long flight.
  • by interactive_civilian (205158) <mamoru.gmail@com> on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:40PM (#26523679) Homepage Journal

    Earth might be broken in some ways, but it is (most likely) a lot better environment than anything else out there. Earth is a far better starting position than Mars or whatever and fixing what's broken here would be far more achievable than trying to build a viable human-sustaining ecosystem on some other planet.

    On the flip side, the spin-off technologies from making a sustainable habitat off planet would probably do wonders for improving the quality of life on planet. Everything from medical technology to air scrubbing and environmental cleanup, food and nutrition to understanding of local ecology and balancing it, energy technology to waste disposal and recycling, and probably much more.

  • by fractalspace (1241106) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:44PM (#26523709)
    Remember what we see is a 3000 year old image of the planet. It may not even exist today.
  • by Silicon Jedi (878120) on Monday January 19, 2009 @09:33PM (#26524163)
    You really must be new here. Slashdotters don't RTFA.
  • Re:Quick quiz (Score:4, Insightful)

    by samkass (174571) on Monday January 19, 2009 @09:52PM (#26524319) Homepage Journal

    according to Wiki, the "surface gravity" of Neptune is 1.14g, and for Uranus it's 0.886g. I put "surface gravity" in quotes here for obvious reasons, but something like the "cloud city" in The Empire Strikes Back would be quite livable on either of these planets.

    Assuming, of course, that you don't mind being crushed to pulp, or have some way of surviving 1000mph windstorms. Of course, for energy you'd have all the natural gas you could ever wish for, if only there were some oxygen around to burn it with.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by burning-toast (925667) on Monday January 19, 2009 @10:41PM (#26524701)

    Along that same line of logic: How come we haven't found them and said "Hi!"? I would suggest that problems we face may not be terribly different from problems other potential civilizations have come across (should they exist).

    I'm sure there are plenty more issues we have yet to discover with long-range communications through space. Let alone the process of finding other intelligent beings to communicate with or finding an intelligible way to communicate between two entirely different species... Don't let the dreamed up solutions from Sci-Fi movies make you think there are easy or even possible solutions to those problems.

    Ever try and carry on a conversation with a dolphin for example? How about over thousands of light-years worth of space?

    - Toast

  • Re:Ummm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PTBarnum (233319) on Monday January 19, 2009 @10:45PM (#26524733)

    I anticipate that someday science will advance to the point where ordering up your own private garden planet, and a fleet of intelligent and loyal robots to tend it for you, is considered routine. A wormhole network connecting your plant to a set of resource-rich sunless moons will be included at no extra charge.

    Everyone will have eternal life and health, lots of friends, and be allowed by their doctors to drink all the ice tea they want.

    But we still won't have flying cars.

  • by damasterwc (1247688) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:02AM (#26525253)
    who modded this insightful? you think genocide is insightful?? you want to wipe out 6 billion people... the british eugenics movement must be proud... their disgusting thoughts and world wildlife fund are really making an impact on the retards of the planet today...
  • Re:GNAA (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:03AM (#26525263)

    Which just goes to show the moderators either don't read or don't agree with the guidelines. I'm all for voting things up rather than down, but in cases like this, the entire thread needs to be modded to oblivion.

  • by db32 (862117) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:26AM (#26525407) Journal
    Good luck on removing conflicting ideologies and justifications for armed conflict. But it is certainly a nice thought. At least we will have a clean place to bury the dead. :)
  • Re:Sized? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:46AM (#26525801)

    When the only thing you can measure is mass, every ambiguous noun begins to look like a synonym for mass.

  • Re:GNAA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dotancohen (1015143) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:54AM (#26525823) Homepage

    Which just goes to show the moderators either don't read or don't agree with the guidelines.

    No, it goes to show what people will do for a cheap +5 informative. Why did the GGP post as a reply to the flame? To be at the top of the page. And what did his link to the 300+ planets have anything to do with TFA? That's a planet, these are planets, +5 Informative in no time!

    I'm all for voting things up rather than down, but in cases like this, the entire thread needs to be modded to oblivion.

    Agreed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:52AM (#26526103)

    Strangely enough, most of us understand that 'sized' and 'like' are not synonyms. But thanks for pointing that out, apparently some moderators found it insightful.

  • Re:Ummm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @06:31AM (#26527107)

    I never cease to be amazed by how many people - like you - employ the following thought pattern and how many others - like the moderators are fooled by it:

    "In the future, we'll be able to do things that are impossible today. This is something that is impossible today. Therefore, we will be able to do this in the future."

    Seriously...

  • Re:Ummm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kelbear (870538) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:58PM (#26536027)

    Evolution will happen anyway based on who ends up living and who ends up dying.

    If a sickly individual survives to procreate due to the medical technology of his culture, while a healthy one dies because his culture didn't have the medical technology to help him recover from a minor accident. Then the sickly individual's culture survives and grows while the healthy individual's culture has shrunk.

    The determining factor of who lives and who dies in this case wasn't the health of the individual, but the culture's ability to provide medical support. If this trend continues, then cultures that can successfully provide medical support will thrive while those that can't, will dissolve. If medical support grows into a burden that drags down the society, then selection based on health may come back into play.

    Potential for intelligence and social cooperation leading to technological advances is a trait which yields the benefit of medical technology. Being healthy enough not to get sick is a different way to get around the problem. Natural selection will still guide evolution in this case.

    You could even see the medical technology as an evolved immune system for the cultural entity.

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