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Space Science

First Rocky Exoplanet Confirmed 155

Matt_dk writes "The confirmation of the nature of CoRoT-7b as the first rocky planet outside our Solar System marks a significant step forward in the search for Earth-like exoplanets. The detection by CoRoT and follow-up radial velocity measurements with HARPS suggest that this exoplanet has a density similar to that of Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth, making it only the fifth known terrestrial planet in the Universe. The search for a habitable exoplanet is one of the holy grails in astronomy. One of the first steps towards this goal is the detection of terrestrial planets around solar-type stars. Dedicated programs, using telescopes in space and on ground, have yielded evidence for hundreds of planets outside of our Solar System. The majority of these are giant, gaseous planets, but in recent years small, almost Earth-mass planets have been detected, demonstrating that the discovery of Earth analogues — exoplanets with one Earth mass or one Earth radius orbiting a solar-type star at a distance of about 1 astronomical unit — is within reach."
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First Rocky Exoplanet Confirmed

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  • by magsol ( 1406749 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @10:40AM (#29440087) Journal
    You seem to be neglecting the fact that this - "let's image the surface! yeah! [...]" - is an entire area of science: astronomy.

    It's not only the (seemingly pointless, as your post insinuates) search for celestial bodies beyond our own planet's atmosphere, but through this search we learn more about our own planet's origins and those of our local solar system, as well as our general role in the cosmos and what we can expect in the years and millennia to come.
  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @10:42AM (#29440113)

    Not really. A lot of these planets that are being found are within the range of a few dozen to a few hundred light years in distance. According to the laws of physics as currently understood, we can't reach light speed, but anything under light speed is fair game. 50% of light speed is perfectly achievable (under the laws of physics - not today's technology), and so most of these could be realistically within 1000 years of travel time. Considering that we had animals walking around on Earth hundreds of millions of years ago, I don't think we'd miss the habitable window of these planets ;).

  • by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @10:54AM (#29440289)
    Joking aside, if we found an exoplanet, with earthlike environment that would be completely amazing and would have interesting philosophical implications. If we found such a planet with life on it, that has profound implications. If we found a planet with roads and a city - civilisation, that has truly astonishing implications for our entire culture. Now, if it turned out that we were imaging ourselves... that's still a neat result and we'd learn a hell of a lot about how space-time works for that to happen. None of this is a waste of time - in the long view, our civilisation will only grow by looking outwards.
  • by Xaedalus ( 1192463 ) <Xaedalys@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @11:23AM (#29440703)
    Thinking wastes energy and adds to entropy. Better to run on instinct, programming, or blind hormone-induced rage.
  • by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @11:27AM (#29440749)
    Well, it was a revolution in thought to discover that we weren't the centre of the universe. It would be a revolution in thought, politics and theology to know that we weren't alone in the universe. The discovery of an earth-compatible environment would also imply that interstellar colonisation was possible with sleeperships/seedships - that would greatly enhance the potential survivability of our species.
  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:01AM (#29453609)

    No sooner will the discovery be made than you'll have theologians "discovering" that the thing "made in God's image" is the soul, not the body

    The idea that "God's image" is not about the body is hardly a new one. 3 dimensional bodies are part of this universe. God, as creator of this universe, by necessity isn't. My guess is that "God's image" is about rational though, as that's what distinguishes us from animals.

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman