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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...' - Ray Cummings, 1930.

UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.

Ancient Ocean On Ceres?
'We sailed gently forward, hull down to the asteroid's surface... A little sea was now beneath us.'

Lunatix Lunar Rover Will Accept YOUR Commands!
'The bulldozer moved through the lunar strip mine... ' - Niven and Pournelle, 1981.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'

iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.

Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'

Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.

RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.

Seasteading Floating Cities
'It was a remarkable island, circular, about half a kilometer in diameter.'

Tesla Semi 'Electrotruck' Unveiled
Elon Musk unveils yet another technological marvel.

Watch What People Are Seeing Via Brain Scanning
'had managed to see through the other man's eyes as the other man, all unaware, washed their Zis limousine sixteen hundred meters away...'

Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve.

Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...'

PRIMA Bionic Vision Restoration
'The VISOR... was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight...'

Audi Traffic Jam Pilot Knows If You're Sleeping
'Even here, riding a garbage truck to eternity, the machine watched him...'

UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.

Ionity Ultra-fast Charging Station Network
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

VAuth Voice Security Wearable From University of Michigan
'Siri, I gave you a voice command...' 'Yes, but do I know you?'

Ubiquiti FrontRow Camera Records Your Life
Why be choosy? Just upload your whole life to the Internet, and be done with it.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.