To find the earth-like planets if they’re out there there are now hundreds of verified extrasolar planets but are any of these planets close enough for mankind to explore that’s what Annabelle see from Erie Pennsylvania wanted to ask the universe when she texted us how long would it take for a space probe to reach the nearest exoplanet using the best propulsion available today Annabelle that’s a really interesting question and in fact there’s no set answer using today’s technology a space probe could reach other star.
Thousand years the nearest known exoplanet.
Is about ten and a half light-years away but there might be a more nearby one or we might improve.
Space propulsion technology in the near future so maybe we could get that down to about ten thousand years in the relatively near future but something.
Like 50 to 200 thousand years is a good answer for right now finding the earth-like planets means looking deeper into the cosmos at dimmer and more distant stars a revolutionary method of watching these dim stars could soon pinpoint the first new earth it’s called the transit technique and it offers a dead.
Giveaway that an orbiting planet is crossing between the star and our viewpoint from Earth so let’s imagine this reflector is like the face of a star and a bug flying in front of that reflector is like the planet as the bug goes in front of and around this reflector it will block a little bit of the light from the reflector just as would happen.
When a planet crosses in front of a sun-like star the amount of dimming is often less than one-tenth of one percent of the star’s light output.
Barely noticeable but it’s more than enough for.
One farsighted space probe is now scouting the cosmos we’d love to know if there’s another earth-like planet out there somewhere and the Kepler mission has a good chance of being able to see it if there is one the Kepler space probe is the powerful eye scientists will use to find the earth-like planets the proverbial needles in the.
Haystack the probes telescope is using a ninety five megapixel camera to watch for the transiting planets the Kepler mission is using the so called transit technique to search for new extrasolar planets.
With the transit technique Kepler is watching thousands of stars waiting for their light to slightly dim when a planet passes in front of the star the Milky Way is composed of billions of stars and potentially billions of earth-like planets the odds of finding one earth-orbiting one particular star are very low so Kepler will train.
Its unblinking eye on many thousands of stars at the same time here I have a DVD to represent a planetary system with the star in the center and a planet going around the outside and of course most of the time the planetary system is tilted to our line of sight and so as the planet goes around it never crosses in front of the star blocking the Starlight but if we’re lucky and the orbital plane.
Of the planet is seen edge-on then the planet crosses in front of the star blocking some of the Starlight and dimming the star and so you have to be watching tens or even hundreds of thousands of stars to be lucky enough to catch a few planets that happen to cross right in front of the star as the world waits Kepler watches the distant stars moment by moment but if it does find.
New earth what can we actually find out about it what will it look like could there be life once Kepler finds earth-like planets and I’m fairly sure it will be successful the next thing will be to try to analyze the light from that planet what’s the chemical composition of this earth does it have an oxygen atmosphere or is it just carbon dioxide or methane does.
The planet have continents and oceans water on the surface currently we don’t have the technology.
To analyze the atmosphere of a distant earth-like planet but that’s about to change in 2015 the James Webb Space Telescope will offer four times the imaging capability of the Hubble Space Telescope it will allow scientists to observe tiny molecules and the atmospheres of an earth-like planet that is.
Potentially thousands of light-years from the earth so we’re at a golden age in the search and discovery of earth-like planets this is it this is the moment when we humans are gonna find the first earths understand them understand how calm and they are.
But we’d like to go farther ultimately space telescopes and interstellar probes could actually go beyond discovering new planets and discover their inhabitants if we could find indigenous life elsewhere in our galaxy it’s really quite independent of that on earth it would be one of the greatest discoveries in the history of humans life on other worlds could.
Be thousands of light-years away but.
Critical clues are constantly circling the earth they are comets.
And scientists are capturing their dust trails and launching kamikaze probes to extract their icy secrets space probes have pushed the boundary of our knowledge of the cosmos as humanity.
Enters a new golden age for interstellar exploration some probes are uncovering secrets much closer to home our solar system is.
Full of fast-moving debris and particles including the giant balls of ice and dust called comets comets are like time capsules they’re frozen remnants left over from when our solar system first formed four-and-a-half billion years ago we’ve had.
Great success studying comets with spacecraft the Deep Impact mission actually slammed into a comet and recorded the whole event on video July 3rd 2005 NASA’s Deep Impact one space.
Probe creeps within range of the comet Tempel 1 as the comet hurtles forward at about 23,000 miles per hour the probe launches an impactor satellite directly into the path.
Wide comet what it actually did is it impacted the comet and caused a desk cloud to fly out of it because the trick was we wanted to see what was inside the comet what does the comet really made up the impact ejects some 11 million pounds of ice.
And up to 55 million pounds of dust from temple 1 it’s the first time scientists are able to record and study cometary material up close and it reveals much about what a comet really is the space probes have told us that comets more like a frozen watermelon then.
It is a dirty snowball there it turns out to be a really hard compacted layer of ice with dust mixed in with it and then the slushy dirty snowball stuff is on the inside it’s kind of got a rind and then the watermelon eat stuff on the inside and as it gets closer to the Sun on its orbit it heats up and then the water on the inside turns into steam this quartz out and that’s why we see the dust.
Trails and the guys are squirting out the comet the Deep Impact probe returns stunning images but it doesn’t actually catch a comet by the tail that’s a job for the comet probe called Stardust in.
2004 stardust cruises within a hundred forty nine miles of Comet wild 2 so.
The starter spacecraft literally flew through the tail of a comet to collect that material that’s being degassed off the surface of a comet to capture the precious particles Stardust deploys a collector about the size and shape of a tennis racket.
Inside is a porous sponge-like gel as the comet flies past the particles embed themselves in the gel at about.
Six times the speed of a rifle bullet we’re literally getting the material out of which the Comets were made and surely the material out of which the planets the asteroids the moons in our solar system were also made we’re getting nearly the pristine material the building blocks of which our solar system.
Is composed and was built once the material is gathered the collector is stowed in a capsule and on January 15th 2006 the precious samples plummet back to earth among the first secrets discovered embedded in the gel are glycine molecules an amino acid used by living organisms to make proteins a fundamental requirement for sustaining life and there are some folks who suggest that perhaps there could be biological organisms trapped in the ices on.
These comets even like flu viruses or something that could.
Be there Stardust didn’t capture any viruses but its discoveries support the theory that the very building blocks of the human race could have formed in space and they were long ago delivered to the earth by meteorites or comets.
An even more bizarre secret is discovered trapped in the gel particles that even the farthest reaching space probes haven’t yet gathered the actual material from other Suns I believe they have found some dust particles that appear to come from outside our solar system from other stars because they have solar winds themselves the dust particles are flowing away from those stars and some of them happen to come into our solar system and they get captured by the.
Stardust probe that we have captured for the first time literally Stardust from other stars that’s amazing that’s amazing the Stardust analysis from Comet wild 2 continues to this day and could yield even more insight into the origins of our tiny corner of the universe if you want to understand how our Sun and planet were formed you need.
To understand the material out of which we were formed but a better understanding of our universe may come not from particles from distant Suns but from the star closest.
To our home a revolutionary probe is awaiting a launch date to fly headlong into the hottest region that man has ever attempted to explore.