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Old 12-06-2011, 09:34 PM
 
Location: Fairfax
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No doubt there are many more planets in habitable zones that are closer to the mass of the Earth. We'll be finding them as our search improves. This planet very well may support life, but I'm guessing that it's atmosphere would be many times thicker than ours.
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:46 PM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
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If we discovered planets that are habitable around Alpha Centauri, I bet the world governments could be pursuaded to fork over the estimated $11 trillion to build a nuclear rocket to take us there. Though, I'd prefer to see similar levels of funding for more advanced rocket technologies, like VASMIR or antimatter rockets that can actually get us to ~10% the speed of light.

If we could do that, we could get to Alpha Centauri within about 20 years. That's short enough, I think, that world governments could pool together resources to send a robotic explorer to the system and then beam back information.
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Old 12-06-2011, 10:42 PM
 
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It's worth noting that while this appears to be the first public announcement of Kepler-22b, it was first observed in 2009. If the video report below is correct, it's not certain if the planet is rocky or gas.

Kepler-22b - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




NASA Discover New Earth Like Planet - Kepler-22b - YouTube
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Old 12-07-2011, 08:45 AM
 
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As it stands now if we're able to make our own food, water and have enough fuel to get to the planet. It would be uninhabitable by the time we made it there due to it's star having no fuel for nuclear fusion.
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danieloneil01 View Post
As it stands now if we're able to make our own food, water and have enough fuel to get to the planet. It would be uninhabitable by the time we made it there due to it's star having no fuel for nuclear fusion.
The problem is that the planet, Kepler-22b, is something like 600 light years away. If you could travel at the speed of light, a round trip would take 1200 years, and that's not counting time spent there, and of course, that's assuming it'd be a round trip. It would matter if people were sent or if a robotic probe is sent. If people are sent, the spacecraft would have to be truly gigantic, capable of supporting a viable population over many generations. If a robotic probe was sent, and communication is powerful is powerful enough that iwe can pick up transmissions sent back to Earth, we're still talking about 600 years at the seed of light to get there, and another 600 years to pick up the first transmissions from it.

The other problem is that we have no idea if the planet is rocky or if it's a gas planet. All we know is that it's close to the size of the Earth (still a whopping 2+ times larger though), and that it's orbit is near the inner limit of the habitable zone of it's parent star, which means if it has water, that water could be in a liquid state. On the other hand, the planet could be dry as a bone. If it's a rocky planet, there are still unanswered questions. Does have water? Could it be more like Venus than Earth? Does it have an active core, or is it dead? Until we have answers to such questions, there'd be no reason to send anyone there.

Since we don't have any spacecraft that can travel anywhere near the speed of light, you're quite right, it could take hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years just to get there. Even though traveling there isn't likely any time soon, it'd still be interesting to lesrn more about it.

Here's another clip, this one from TDarnell, which I think is much better, and more animated, than the others I posted earlier.



The Promise of Kepler-22b - YouTube
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by plwhit View Post
I'd go there in a heartbeat just to escape the politics and racial/ethnic hatred that exists today in this world...
I'd add to that the ''religious nut cases'' from all religions on the earth.
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:36 AM
 
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NightBazaar,

If you had a way to explore just one of these two places which would you choose .... Kepler 22-b or Europa?
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Old 12-09-2011, 03:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 6 Foot 3 View Post
NightBazaar,

If you had a way to explore just one of these two places which would you choose .... Kepler 22-b or Europa?
As of now, assuming such an option was available, I'd probably choose Europa, simply because we really don't yet know much about Kepler-22b. We don't yet know if it's a rocky planet or a gas planet. Actually, Titan would probably be easier to explore than Europa. Europa might have life in liquid oceans below the thick icy surface, but finding a safe landing spot on its mountains of jagged ice could be a big challenge. It'd be interesting to get a closer look at Europa. There might be some fairly decent landing sites. Might need some ice skates though.

Just for fun (and perspective) Kepler-22b is about 600 light years away from us. That's close from a cosmological point of view, but a really long way from our point of view. Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts were launched almost 35 years ago (1977) and haven't yet reached interstellar space. Same for the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecrafts.

Voyager 1 is expected to pass near a red dwarf star (AC+79 3888) sometime around 42000 AD. Voyager 2 should be near the star Sirius about 298000 AD. Pioneer 10 should be near the Aldebaran system (65 light years away) about 2 million AD. Pioneer 11 will be near the Lambda Aquilae system (about 125 light years away) about 4 million AD. All these stars are considered to be reasonably close to us. If we had a spacecraft moving at the same speed as the Voyager and Pioneer spacecraft (which are nowhere near light speed), it'd take almost 20 million years to reach Kepler-22b.
http://www.futuretimeline.net/beyond.htm

Let's say we had an unmanned spacecraft that could travel at the speed of light (there's lots of problems with that though), it'd take at least 600 years just to get to Kepler-22b. And once our craft phones home to let us know it had arrived, it'd take another 600 years to reach us. 1200 years would have passed from launch to receiving the message.
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Old 12-09-2011, 11:11 PM
 
Location: Fairfax
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I'm fairly certain we'll find smaller planets MUCH closer than Kepler 22-b.
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by decafdave View Post
I'm fairly certain we'll find smaller planets MUCH closer than Kepler 22-b.
That's possible. What makes Kepler-22b remarkable is not only its general size, but also because its orbit appears to be within the habitable zone which would allow water (if present) to be in a liquid state. It's the first to be confirmed out of 54 habitable zone candidates. According to NASA, "The Kepler science team uses ground-based telescopes and the Spitzer Space Telescope to review observations on planet candidates the spacecraft finds." It remains to be seen what is determined about the others.
NASA - NASA's Kepler Mission Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-like Star

I also think we'll find smaller planets, although it's hard to guess how far from the Earth, and how far they may be from their own parent star. A lot of it may depend on using more creative techniques and more powerful telescopes, both ground-based and space telescopes, to detect. It's also worth noting that most exoplanets have not been discovered by direct observation. Those that have been observed are vastly larger and orbiting much farther away from their star. The most common methods used for detection involve planets transiting in front of a star which results in a slight dimming of the star, or by the wobble of a star indicating a gravitational tug by an unseen planet. At the present time, even if such "smaller planets are MUCH closer", at the present time, they're still far to distant to be directly observed.

What's needed for habitable zone candidates, including Kepler-22b, is to determine if they are rocky or gas planets. If they're rocky planets, then to determine what kind of atmosphere they have. That could be done with transiting planets by looking at the spectroscopic differences as they pass in front of the star. It;s entirely possible we might be able to detect atmospheric clues as to the likelihood of life on such planets. For those with orbits that do not pass directly across their parent stars, we may be out of luck to determine atmospheric conditions of the planets, unless we develop much more powerful ways to detect them. We'd probably at least need to be better able to directly observe the phases of such non-transiting planets first as they orbit the stars. There have been a few suspected exoplanets (much larger than Jupiter) observed. This has been accomplished because the planet was far enough away from the planet to see. Planets that may be closer to a star are much more difficult to see because of interference from the star's brilliance. Any Earth-sized non-transiting planet that's within a habitable zone may be too dim to detect. I do think we'll eventually have powerful enough methods to see some of these smaller bodies.
First Direct Photo of Alien Planet Finally Confirmed | Space.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTqm-OvenVc

Last edited by NightBazaar; 12-10-2011 at 07:19 AM.. Reason: Added video
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