Thursday, January 10, 2013

Earth-like planets are fairly common in our Universe?

NASA's Kepler Mission that started three years ago has already discovered thousands of potential Earth-like planets, the so called exoplanets. This pioneer mission could hold great future importance as the astronomers look for new habitable planets outside our solar system.

It is very likely that one day space travel will be as common as taking a plane flight but prior to going further to space we need to gather as much of useful data as possible. As always, preparation is the key for successful travel, and in space travel even the small mistakes aren't allowed.

The NASA scientists have recently stated that „17 percent of all sun-like stars have planets one to two times the diameter of Earth orbiting close to their host stars.“ However, the current limitation of Kepler's detection capability suggests that this percentage could be lot bigger, some say even up to 50 percent.

The U.S. astronomer Andrew Howard from the University of Berkeley made the interesting observation by saying that „the frequency of planets increases as you go to smaller sizes, but it doesn't increase all the way to Earth-size planets as it stays at a constant level below twice the diameter of Earth“.

One other important fact is that planet doesn't have to be necessarily habitable just because it is one to two times the size of Earth and orbits around its Sun. Planets could turn out to be worlds with rocky core, similar to Uranus or Neptune, or could even turn out to be water worlds, covered with extremely deep oceans.

How does Kepler telescope work? In order to find planets, the Kepler telescope captures repeated images of 150,000 stars in a region of the sky in the constellation Cygnus, and afterwards the captured images are being analyzed by the advanced computer software.

Many astronomers believe it’s only a matter of time before new Superearth will be discovered. The road to space colonization is long and hard but the pioneering work of Kepler telescope will no doubt be forever remembered in the history of the human race.