December 24, 2012

Our New Home?

So lately there’s been a parade of astronomers dancing and bouncing up and down on their beds like they were in elementary school.

Why is this?

It seems that these guys have found not only a new habitable zone for life in outer space and not only a star that has striking, life giving characteristics of our own Sun; but have they’ve also found at least five Super Earths orbiting this star.

So what is a Super Earth exactly? Well, you have come to the right website buddy. This is redOrbit, home to all of that space jive talk and you’re sure to find tons of info on that subject. But, to put it simply a Super Earth is a term given to a planet with a mass much larger than Earth’s own. The only drawback is the term only refers to the mass of a planet and not the living conditions. But this is where things get interesting. The two planets near the end of star’s gravitational field are in the habitable zone (the other three are too close to the star and all life would be burned alive).

The star is called Tau Ceti, and it is only 12 light-years away. That’s right, your eyes are not deceiving you, the star is only 12 light-years away! That’s not very far considering how big space is to begin with.

This discovery leads me to another thought: it sounds all fine and good to discover planets such as these but where is a plan to go pursue? I am going to wait before I call this one. I need pictures of the actual surface, images of what the landscape looks like or just something tangible to feed my already childlike imagination. I want to see concept art of colonies or something. I just want to see a plan, progression or something other than just celebration.

I understand that all this space stuff is now funded by eccentric millionaires with a crazy love for the final frontier (okay maybe they’re not eccentric), but I see that as even more of a possibility that this new observation will be acted a upon and not just talked about, since they have the freedom to work on any space travel projects. I want to see actions made to cultivate this newly observed place because you and I both know this planet has not been treated the best.

Maybe I’m dreaming, maybe the ideals I have stated sound like something out of a sci-fi movie or a video game.  But to take a step, one must first visualize success.  So, is it not a farfetched idea to think about going to the farthest reaches of space? Maybe future generations will be able to travel to a new home when their current home is endangered. I also understand that these theories have been echoed throughout history, from JFK to George Lucas. These different, distant futures have been a long-standing fantasy in civilization but never have they been this close to our reach, and the only way to go from here is up, past the limit of the sky and into the limitless reaches of space.

Image Credit: Laschon Maximilian / Shutterstock

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