Finally Some SETI Progress: Gliese 581 c
During the last 10 years or so we have located over 200 exoplanets but not until very recently, on the April 24, 2007, we have found one planet that is most probably located in the habitable zone. This is the first time and a major breakthrough in my opinion.
Research-team member Xavier Delfosse said:
Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life. On the treasure map of the universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X.
The planet is named "Gliese 581 c" and is located very close to us, only 20,5 light years away. This is very close in astronomical measurements but unfortunately I very much doubt we can reach that planet within the next 150 years.
Summary of the planet in layman terms
- It is orbiting very close to its star but because the star is a red dwarf it is very cold compared to our sun and so the temperature on the planets surface is pretty much the same as on earth.
- The planet is larger than earth and is probably covered by either water or ice.
- The gravity is only a little higher than on earth.
- It has an orbital period ("year") of 13 Earth days.
- It may be tidally locked to the star, with one hemisphere always day and the other always night. The lit hemisphere would be extremely hot and the dark hemisphere extremely cold, while the narrow terminator or "twilight zone" between them might have a moderate climate more suitable for life.
Let me give you an interesting related detail ...
In 1952 the founder of the controversial Scientology movement claimed to know the existence of a planet with habitable intelligent life located 78 light years away in the Ursa Major constellation, inside the Big Dipper. This was based on past-life memory recalls.
According to the claims, the planet (that was named Marcab) is supposed to be around the Mizar (composed of the stars Mizar A, Alcor, Mizar B and Sidus Ludoviciana).
See the below map:
Now this is perhaps just bogus but I find it enough interesting to check out. According to the claims the civilization living there are more technologically advanced then ours and controls no less than 7 planets in this area of the galaxy ... (more info)
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