Rapid Automated Search For Habitable Planets Needed
SETI researchers at the Breakthrough Discuss conference, an event hosted by the Breakthrough Initiatives founded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, discussed ways to find habitable planets.
For exoplanet hunters, distance is the biggest hurdle. The search for life beyond our solar system has turned to analyzing the compositions of alien atmospheres with telescopes at home, which is an incredibly difficult task. It's hard to resolve Pluto from Earth, let alone a small body billions of miles farther away.
[Lopez-Morales, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory] proposes looking for oxygen in these atmospheres using a technique called high-resolution spectroscopy, which is essentially collecting high-resolution data of the light passing through a planet's atmosphere. When an exoplanet passes in front of it's parent star, the starlight baths the planet, curving around and through the atmosphere.
The problem is that there are no instruments available to perform this type of alien-hunting spectroscopy, especially not for the more distant Earth-sized bodies.
"We know that one out of every four small stars should have a planet. Based on those numbers, there's around 250 [stars nearby], so by that count there will be around 60 Earth-like planets within 32 light-years from Earth, " says Lopez-Morales. And while these are close on the cosmic map, detecting oxygen in atmospheres that sit dozens of light-years away is still just too difficult.
"There is no telescope that we have today that can do this in a reasonable amount of time," explains Lopez-Morales. "It could take 60 years."
Science fiction legend EE 'Doc" Smith elaborately described a manual search for habitable planets in his 1934 novel Skylark of Valeron, but it's just too slow!
Remarkably, Golden Age science fiction great Edmond Hamilton Nailed down the automated solution eighty years ago in his exciting 1936 short story Cosmic Quest:
I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.
These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected. With super-telescopic eyes each one scanned a part of the star field before them. And each mechanical eye, when it found planetary systems in its field, automatically shifted upon them a higher powered telespectroscope which recorded on permanent film the size, mean temperature and atmospheric conditions of these worlds.
(Read more about Hamilton's search for habitable planets)
(The telespectroscope recorded the conditions of these other worlds)
Via Popular Mechanics.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/18/2017)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...' - Bruce Sterling, 1985.
SpaceX Spacesuit Design Transmitted By Elon Musk
Welcome, SpaceX, to the club of space suit imaginers and makers.
Will A Steel Umbrella Stop Russia?
'Everyone was aware that the damned platform was wandering around in its own orbit...' - EB White, 1950.
NASA Wants To Make Oxygen On Mars
'They plop down on the Red and if the dust is deep enough ... they burrow in...' - Greg Bear, 2014.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Foldable Galaxy Phones, I Swear They're Coming (Maybe)
How hard can it be?
Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...'
Brain Connected To Internet - ‘Brainternet'
Artificial Spider Silk
You can also use it to make a roof - on an asteroid.
MIT Tunes Ions For Frictionless Surface - Superlubricity!
'My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid...'
Seiko Astron Always Knows Your Time Zone
'Harrington glanced at his wrist watch - a bulky affair - and whistled.'
Robot Buddhist Priest Chants, Drums
'He crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'
Koniku Kore, Mouse Brain-Based Chip, Detects Explosives
'As a matter of fact, this mouse is going to keep on thinking forever.'
CNH Industrial Autonomous Tractor Concept Video
'...the tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.'
The Neuroon Open Sleep Tracker For Lucid Dreaming
'Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer on the bedside shelf.'
Siri Now Smoother, Perkier (Thanks, Deep Learning!)
'Good morning, Dr. Chandra. This is Hal.'
China's Drone Fleet Flies In Formation
'Programmed to hang... in a hexagonal grid pattern.'
Neuralink, The Latest Elon Musk Passion
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE [a mainframe computer] what we wanted...'
RFly Drones Rule The Warehouse
'The wasp homed unerringly on the face of the honeycomb...'
Will The FDA Approve This Antiaging Drug?
'So what we're looking for now is... an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug.'
Rule Of Humans By Software Not Transparent
'The Council itself could be overridden by a superior power...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories