Posts Tagged ‘galaxy’

Scientists are said to believe that there are likely to be around 100 million planets in the Milky Way that harbor exactly the right conditions for life. *

Are you going: “What sci-fi book is this from?”

It is not fiction. It is a fact!

Let me begin at the beginning…

Have you heard about NASA’s Kepler Mission, NASA Discovery Mission # 10?

The Kepler Spacecraft was launched into space in March of last year, on a three-and-a-half year mission to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy for signs of Earth-like planets.

Among other things, the mission’s aim is to discover planets that are Earth-size or smaller in or near the habitable zone.

Artist’s rendering of Kepler’s target region in the Milky Way. Credit: NASA/Jon Lomberg

So far we’ve only known for sure that there are many planets outside of the solar system that are either gas or ice giants.

Now, we have new information.

Kepler mission has discovered the first confirmed planetary system (outside of our own) with two distinct planets orbiting the same star.

Early results from Kepler mission also suggest the likelihood of the existence of more than hundred planets similar in size to Earth in our galaxy. Scientists also believe that there are likely to be around 100 million planets in the Milky Way that harbor exactly the right conditions for life.

This means the chances of life outside of Earth also increase sharply!

Dimitar Sasselov, professor of astronomy at Harvard University and a scientist on the Kepler Mission said:

The figures suggest our galaxy, the Milky Way [which has more than 100 billion stars] will contain 100 million habitable planets, and soon we will be identifying the first of them. There is a lot more work we need to do with this, but the statistical result is loud and clear, and it is that planets like our own Earth are out there.**

Now, isn’t that astounding news?

It is one of those findings that is bound to change the way we look at life and the space around us.

Suddenly sightings of flying saucers and other UFOs don’t seem so daft, do they?

We’ll probably be a little less skeptical about stories of people who claim to have been beamed up into a mother ship and transported to another planet.

Wouldn’t it be phenomenal if there were to be some solid proof, within our lifetime, that life (similar to human-life or not) does exist on other planets in the galaxy?

I’m getting goose bumps just writing this.

If you were to come across news like that, what would your very first reaction be to it?

* – Daily Mail

** – News.com.au

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Hubble floats above Earth

April 24th of this year marked the twentieth anniversary of Hubble, the telescope that orbits Earth. It is one of NASA’s most successful and long-lasting science missions.

Why did NASA put the telescope in space? So its view would not be compromised by the Earth’s atmosphere, which distorts and blocks the light reaching our planet. This is one of the biggest disadvantages from which ground-based telescopes trained at the outer space suffer.

Hubble’s discoveries have helped in the advancement of scientists’ understanding of the universe enormously. The telescope’s unique position gives it the best seat to view the universe around it and record it. The information Hubble has gathered over the years has helped scientists look at the universe in a whole new light.

Here are some fascinating facts about The Hubble Space Telescope (gathered from its official site):  

  • It was launched into space aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990.
  • It sweeps around the Earth once every 97 minutes.
  • It has revealed the age of the universe to be about 13 to 14 billion years, much more accurate than the old range of anywhere from 10 to 20 billion years.
  • It has played a key role in the discovery of dark energy, a mysterious force that causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate.
  • It is kept up to date and on target by periodic servicing missions from astronauts high above the atmosphere.
  • It has a ‘ground crew’ that tells it what to do.
  • It’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is currently in the works. It is scheduled to launch in 2014.
  • It is expected that Hubble’s components will slowly, over the years, degrade to the point at which it will stop working. When that happens, Hubble will continue to orbit Earth until its orbit decays, allowing it to spiral toward Earth.

Messages for Hubble:

NASA has many things planned for celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the telescope. Among them is its invitation for Hubble’s fans to leave a message in Hubble archives, and hence for posterity.

Never is the adage a picture speaks volumes more appropriate than in this context. So, without further ado, I bow out and leave you with some more astounding pictures (courtesy: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album) from Hubble’s album that has been created over the past two decades.

For further information and many more mind-blowing pictures, visit: http://hubblesite.org.

Spiral Galaxy M100


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