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NASA Spies Earth-Sized Exoplanet Orbiting Sun-Like Star 134

An anonymous reader writes: NASA has announced that a new Earth-like planet has been discovered that may be the closest thing yet to a first true "Earth twin." Kepler 452b is located 1,000 light years away, is 60% larger than Earth, and orbits Kepler 452 at a distance similar to that between Earth and the Sun. "It is the first terrestrial planet in the habitable zone around a star very similar to the Sun," says Douglas Caldwell, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.
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NASA Spies Earth-Sized Exoplanet Orbiting Sun-Like Star

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  • by Eloking ( 877834 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @01:06PM (#50169057)

    2 time the gravity thought...

    • Right, 60% larger gravity would be tough on a fat guy like me. Also, can someone please help me understand the orbit thing? In the article it appears that 186 orbits a brighter-sun closer to Mercury's orbit as opposed to Earth's. The Earth has liquid water in the summer and frozen water in the winter just with the polar shift. How can a planet orbiting closer to a brighter star have anything but steam in the atmosphere, if it even has water?

      • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @01:25PM (#50169185) Journal

        I'm thinking the worst aspect of that higher gravity would be a much denser atmosphere. We certainly could survive in 1.6g environment, but we couldn't survive the crushing weight of that atmosphere.

        • so we do it like the movie "Armageddon"

          but instead of oil rig workers we send wrestlers

          send WWE personalities. send john cena and people built like him

      • by bledri ( 1283728 )

        Right, 60% larger gravity would be tough on a fat guy like me. Also, can someone please help me understand the orbit thing? In the article it appears that 186 orbits a brighter-sun closer to Mercury's orbit as opposed to Earth's. The Earth has liquid water in the summer and frozen water in the winter just with the polar shift. How can a planet orbiting closer to a brighter star have anything but steam in the atmosphere, if it even has water?

        You're looking at the wrong planet. Kepler-452b is the planet whose orbit is similar to Earth's orbit. And it's sun is similar to ours. Kepler-186 is orbiting much closer to it's star, but it's star is much cooler than ours.

    • If 60% larger is "Earth-Sized," call me when they find something "Mars-Sized."
      • by bledri ( 1283728 )

        If 60% larger is "Earth-Sized," call me when they find something "Mars-Sized."

        OK, Kepler-138b [space.com] is about the size of Mars.

      • The whole "Earth-sized" thing is a misnomer because apparently journalists are stupid. All it really means is "This isn't a gas giant". Outside of that one point, it's pretty much a crap shoot.
    • Could it be.... Krypton?

  • Hooray! Kepler just discovered Venus!
  • Too Far Away (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lazarus ( 2879 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @01:13PM (#50169103) Homepage Journal

    It is 1400 light years away. It may be a good candidate for life, but we will never know. Even if we point SETI-type radio telescopes at it and monitor it for signals, they will have spent 1400 years getting to us and there is no guarantee that whatever civilization was there is still there. Chances of a "conversation" are nil.

    If we detect life-emitting organic compounds on it, it also won't matter. We'd never be able to verify their veracity because we cannot get there.

    Interesting discovery, but I can't muster up much excitement about this one.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      1400 years from now they will pick up the faint television broadcast signals of the Milton Berle Show and I Love Lucy. Then they will conclude that there is no intelligent life on Earth and point their antenna elsewhere.
      • Luckily wifi and 3g don't travel that far, or they'd pick up facedot and twitbox and come to an entirely different conclusion.

        They'd decide that there's not only no intelligent life on Earth, but there's a negative chance of it ever happening, and demolish it to build a hyperspace bypass.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          How does one have a negative chance of something happening?

          • How does one have a negative chance of something happening?

            Even if you have apparent positive proof that it has happened, logic forces you to discount it.

    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      yes nothing matters, must commit seppuku

    • Well it's possible that in a few million years, our star will once again become in close proximity to it's neighboring stars, making an interstellar journey not so far fetched.

      Possibly when the Milky Way collides with Andromeda. Or when that happens, we could get thrown out of our galaxy entirely and end up being a lonely star system somewhere out in the void of intergalactic space, and then not even star trek style warp drive will take us there.

      • A star passed within 0.8 light years of Earth during the lifetime of homo sapiens, a mere 70,000 years ago. Our ancestors missed the boat.

    • The real significance of this discovery is not just that the system is Earthlike, but that it has been stable for two billion years longer than our own. That's time for a lot of local technology to happen. Once they get the Thirty Meter Telescope built on Gran Canaria or whatever other decent location is not infested by liberals, systems like this will be prime candidates for high-res observation.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      We don't have to have 2-way communication to know if there is intelligent life there. If we receive their TV signals, for example, we'll know, even though we cannot reply in our life-time. (I hope they don't have Kardashians also.....hmm, maybe the Kardashians are from there.)

      And, we may be able to pick up the spectrum of life-related chemicals from here if we get powerful/big enough telescopes. But, we wouldn't know much about the nature of the animals (or equiv.) from that alone.

      • by smaddox ( 928261 )

        The problem with trying to detect radio signals from hypothetical alien civilizations is that they would almost certainly have to be intentionally signaling us, and at great expense (it would take a lot of power). High power analog TV transmissions (the type that can be distinguished from background noise) are nearly extinct on earth, and certainly won't last through the century.

        As efficiency improves, every from of communication becomes more and more indistinguishable from random noise to any outside obser

    • Chances of a "conversation" are nil.

      Why? Even individuals had many productive conversations on this planet when it took weeks to get a reply via snail mail.

      Of course individual humans today couldn't have a conversation with 1000 year latency (at least form Earth's side - the aliens might live a lot longer). The invention of cryogenics of some kind, extreme life expectancy increases, or relativistic time dilation could fix that though.

      But as a civilisation, I don't see why we couldn't converse. Especially as civilisation ages - after 1

      • Chances of a "conversation" are nil.

        Why? Even individuals had many productive conversations on this planet when it took weeks to get a reply via snail mail.

        There is a fairly clear difference between a delay that is less than 0.1% of your lifespan and a delay that is 2000% of it. In fact, once you're over 100% you are not in any real sense having a conversation.

    • That is long ping return...

      >64 bytes from planet-blue (120.1.1.1): icmp_seq=1 ttl=100000000000000000000000 time=1400 years

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      " Even if we point SETI-type radio telescopes at it and monitor it for signals, they will have spent 1400 years getting to us and there is no guarantee that whatever civilization was there is still there."
      "Interesting discovery, but I can't muster up much excitement about this one."
      Really? You are an idiot.
      The discovery of life in another solar system would be a HUGE discovery. Finding a technologically advanced civilisation would change everything. There is no telling what we could find out if we could rea

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We'd never be able to verify their veracity

      But, maybe we'd have a shot at validating their validity.

    • by Ramze ( 640788 )

      1400 years is indeed a long time, but if there is a civilization broadcasting, who knows what we might be able to learn from those broadcasts?!?

      ET could be beaming out their PBS documentaries with the answers to nearly all our questions for them.

      Even if there's no advanced life there, we now have a great target for sending a probe to detect life -- the fact that the humans that send the probe won't live to get the reply isn't important. Someone, someday will know if we send a probe now and it is successful

      • There's a technical problem here. Assuming electromagnetic broadcasting, for a signal's content to be discernible on Earth, the broadcast from a planet 1400 L.Y. away would have to use a substantial portion of all the energy impinging on the planet. What civilization would use that much power on such a dubious project?
        • by cusco ( 717999 )

          So you are assuming that radio astronomy will just stop advancing from today onward, or what? When Voyager was launched the ability to pick up the signal strength we're currently monitoring didn't exist. IIRC, to monitor the signal from Voyager is the equivalent of viewing a 60 watt light bulb in the orbit of Jupiter. In the next decade or so we'll have radio telescopes in orbit with baselines of tens of thousands of kilometers. Already Earth sends out more radiation than the Sun at several interesting

    • It is 1400 light years away. It may be a good candidate for life, but we will never know. Even if we point SETI-type radio telescopes at it and monitor it for signals, they will have spent 1400 years getting to us and there is no guarantee that whatever civilization was there is still there. Chances of a "conversation" are nil.

      If we detect life-emitting organic compounds on it, it also won't matter. We'd never be able to verify their veracity because we cannot get there.

      Interesting discovery, but I can't muster up much excitement about this one.

      *puts on Space Nutter hat*

      It's just an engineering problem.

  • NSA not content with Earth, extends spying to exoplanets.
  • Keplerians: so...we've been discovered by the earth people?
    Keplerian scientist: Yes, the small blue planet 1000 lightyears away knows of us now.
    Keplerians: This is exciting! truly a breakthrough!
    Keplerian scientist: Yes, one would think that...until you observe the electromagnetic spectrum emanating from the planet. We have yet to develop a complete understanding of the horrific bloodsport known as 'Kardashian'
    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @01:27PM (#50169197) Homepage

      Except, of course, at 1000 light years away ... there are no EM radiations from us which would have reached there.

      Sorry to burst your bubble.

      • Well it's been all but proven that the future influences the past, so the keplerians are likely taking advantage of that.

        • Well it's been all but proven that the future influences the past

          So how come no one has corrected your idiotic statement from the future?

      • But I'm sure if the Keplerians are aware of us, they probably already have a probe monitoring us. And I'm certain it has some sort of micro-wormhole data transfer device which allows them to transmit all of the wonderful offerings of those strange earth people into each Keplerian home for the low low price of 14'95 kumark / cycle. Unfortunately, Keeping up with Kardashians (Even though they can't understand WTF those people do) is a top show on the Keplerian home world, so we probably should just launch t
      • by robi5 ( 1261542 )

        I'd have thought it depends on signal strength and the sensitivity of the sensor, not just the distance, and also thought that SETI tries to detect EM radiation, among other things. So what's the truth?

        • Ummm ... yes, SETI does look for EM radiation.

          But EM radiation pretty much travels at the speed of light.

          As there is zero EM radiation emitted by humans which will have traveled 1000 light years, no matter how sensitive your sensor is, it simply cannot measure signals which haven't traveled that far.

          So when we just now discover something which is 1000 light years away, what we are seeing is 1000 year old light, and conversely, what they can see/hear from us is also 1000 years delayed.

          Around 1000 years after

          • That's actually not *entirely* true... humans haven't been making artificially modulated RF for a millennium yet, but artificial sources of EM (remember, *light* is EM) have existed practically as long as any form of civilization has. Cities are visible from space. Much less so when they're lit by candles and fireplaces than when they're lit by all the myriad electric sources found in modern cities, and there's a nearly-incomprehensible difference between LEO "from space" and interstellar "from space", of c

            • Except Earth has natural forest fires and prarie fires and methane fires.

              • by cusco ( 717999 )

                and methane fires.

                Wonder how long people have been lighting farts . . .

                Sorry, brain droppings.

              • Except Earth has natural forest fires and prarie fires and methane fires.

                Yes, but assuming the equipment was sensitive enough, cities would detect as constant low burning fires that remained in the same place constantly over years. It would at least be unusual to have some many natural steady state, if not slowly increasing fires, and quite possible that the light spectrum does not match such known sources as natural gas or methane. However, if will probably be a larger clue, if they could detect ancient cities light, that said lights dim soon after sundown every day.

      • Except, of course, at 1000 light years away ... there are no EM radiations from us which would have reached there.

        You obviously haven't been watching enough hard science documentaries on The Learning Channel, and don't understand the important role that our ancient pyramids have played in transmitting psycho-electrical immortality radiation towards the stars. Please try to keep up.

  • They should really think about naming these planets (at least the Earth-like ones) alongside their Kepler designations. While there is the distinct possibility that we'll find thousands of these things, it would be good PR to have something to call it. The current names are tough to remember and don't do the huge discovery justice.
    • They should really think about naming these planets (at least the Earth-like ones) alongside their Kepler designations. While there is the distinct possibility that we'll find thousands of these things, it would be good PR to have something to call it. The current names are tough to remember and don't do the huge discovery justice.

      Wouldn't it be easier to wait until we find planets with actual intelligent life on, and ask the people who live there what they call it?

  • I'm willing to give Venus the title of Earth Sized. It's 80% the mass of the Earth, and roughly the same diameter. Plus or minus 20 percent of the earths mass and size sure. 60% is not in the right ball park yet. It would be ok to say this is the closest to earth sized but not earth sized.
    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      I think they mean it's small enough that it wouldn't become a gas giant, but it has enough gravity to hold an atmosphere
  • What are they waiting for? Get a space probe out there already! Oh, and take Donald Trump along for the ride.
  • Now they have NASA spying, too??!! Is there ANY federal agency not getting involved in this over-the-top surveillance state activity?
  • Is this Caprica or Battlestar Galactica's original earth (the one devastated by nuclear war)?

  • It makes me think of Big Planet by the late Jack Vance. Of course this one is real and heavier, and the plot in big planet novels comes from the lighter density of the planet. But hey, these were fun stories. It's kinda sad we'll never be able to see another world.

  • And perhaps there is some intelligent life form here. They are staring at us too, but since this is 1000 light-years away, they see our middle-age radio emissions, which are nil.

    They will have an opportunity to see us in 1000 years, but at that time they will have trashed their environment and it will not be compatible anymore with being able to listen to radio signals.

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