Fall 2016

by: Ashley Lucas

Within Our Own Solar System:

Evidence shows that Mars was once like Earth with an ocean of Water and a similar atmosphere to what we have on our planet today. With the possibility of past water, there was the possibility that life could have begun on Mars and it was once again perceived to be more Earth-like.
Surface features such as canyons and valleys on the “Red Planet” suggest an abundance of liquid water in its geological past. Water vapors on Mars were first detected in the early 60s followed by observation of water-rich ice patches decades later The proven presence of running water on Mars is provocative because it confirms that an aqueous environment where life could survive exists. http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/water_mars/

http://observer.com/2015/11/breaking-nasa-confirms-how-mars-transformed-from-earth-like-to-a-cold-dry-planet/

Image of mars if it had water today
Image of mars if it had water today

Depicts Mars based on what it would have looked like 4 billion years ago
http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/water_mars/


Researchers found high levels of manganese oxides by using a laser-firing instrument on Nasa's Curiosity Mars rover. Chemicals found in Martian rocks suggest the Red Planet once had more oxygen in its atmosphere than it does now. In Earth's geological history, the appearance of high concentrations of manganese oxide minerals is an important marker of a major shift in our atmosphere's composition, from relatively low oxygen to the current oxygen-rich atmosphere.This higher oxygen level can be linked to a time when groundwater was present in the planet's Gale Crater where the rover is based, and it adds to other Curiosity findings – such as evidence of ancient lakes – revealing how Earth-like our neighbouring planet once was.

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/mars-oxygen-earth-rover

From 2004, Cassini–Huygens began to reveal Saturn's moon Titan to be one of the most Earth-like worlds outside of the habitable zone. Though having a dramatically different chemical makeup, discoveries such as the confirmation of Titanian lakes, rivers and fluvial processes in 2007,advanced Earth comparisons to. Further observations including weather phenomena has aided the understanding of geological processes that may operate on Earth-like planets
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Cassini-Huygens/Seeing_touching_and_smelling_the_extraordinarily_Earth-like_world_of_Titan
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721202957.htm


Image result for saturn's moon titan
Image result for saturn's moon titan


Image describing what living on Titan would be like.
http://www.undergroundworldnews.com/


The Start of a New Age:

With NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone" -- the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

While planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, they are all at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth and understanding their makeup is challenging. Kepler-186f is more reminiscent of Earth.

"We know of just one planet where life exists -- Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth," said Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published today in the journal Science. "Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward."

http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/nasas-kepler-discovers-first-earth-size-planet-in-the-habitable-zone-of-another-star


Image of kepler space telescope http://time.com/104575/kepler-spacecraft-lives-again/
Image of kepler space telescope http://time.com/104575/kepler-spacecraft-lives-again/

Image of Kepler space telescope

http://time.com/104575/kepler-spacecraft-lives-again/



NASA's Kepler findings:

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.” The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone -- the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet -- of a G2-type star, like our sun. Kepler-452b is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth and is considered a super-Earth-size planet. While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a good chance of being rocky."It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.” The Kepler-452 system is located 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus.
http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-kepler-mission-discovers-bigger-older-cousin-to-earth



Image result for kepler 452b
Image result for kepler 452b

Image showing the comparison of Earth and Kepler-452b
http://www.financetwitter.com/2015/07/nasa-finds-earth-2-0-an-800-million-mission-which-challenges-gods-existence.html

Image result for kepler finds new earth
Image result for kepler finds new earth

Image showing how similar 'Earth's bigger older cousin' is with Earth
http://gurumavin.com/nasa-finds-earths-bigger-older-cousin/

NASA's orbiting Kepler Space Telescope has identified more than 2,000 confirmed planets around other stars based on changes in the stars' brightness. "For some of them, we know an approximate mass or an approximate radius, and we know roughly how far they are from their star — but that's really all we know." Although, there are other possibly Earth-like planets found further off than Keplar 452b within the habitable zone. There is an Earth-like rocky exoplanet 4.2 light-years away called Proxima b. Its minimum mass is 1.3 times that of the Earth and the planet’s gravity causes its star to wobble in a pattern repeated every 11.2 days, which is one year on Proxima b. Astronomers also said that Proxima b lies within the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, which means the planet orbits a safe distance from the star, making it neither too hot or too cold. Because of this, astronomers said that Proxima b may have suitable surface temperature that would allow for the presence of liquid water, meaning the exoplanet could support some sort of life.
http://www.space.com/33952-five-nearest-earth-like-alien-planets.html
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/24/science/space/proxima-centauri-nearest-exoplanet.html?_r=0

Image result for proxima b
Image result for proxima b

Image showing that Proxima b is within the habitable zone
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/24/science/space/proxima-centauri-nearest-exoplanet.html?_r=0



Although there are many Earth-like planets discovered, here are a few listed that would be the most likely to have life:

Wolf 1061c

This exoplanet is located about 13.8 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus, making it the second-closest known potentially habitable planet to Earth, after Proxima b. Wolf 1061c lies within the habitable zone of the red dwarf star called Wolf 1061, according to a 2015 study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The exoplanet takes about 17.9 days to complete one orbit around its parent star. Its estimated mass is about 4.3 times that of Earth. Wolf 1061c is thought to be a rocky planet, which means it may be able to support life as we know it.

http://www.space.com/33952-five-nearest-earth-like-alien-planets.html


Image of Wolf 1061 solar system. http://curiousfactsworld.blogspot.com/2015/12/researchers-discover-wolf-1061c.html
Image of Wolf 1061 solar system. http://curiousfactsworld.blogspot.com/2015/12/researchers-discover-wolf-1061c.html

This image shows the Wolf 1061 solar system orbiting a dwarf star.

http://curiousfactsworld.blogspot.com/2015/12/researchers-discover-wolf-1061c.html

Gliese 832c

This alien world is slightly farther from Earth, but it exhibits many similar traits that suggest it may be able to support life, too. Gliese 832c is located just 16 light-years from Earth and lies within the habitable zone of a red dwarf star called Gliese 832. This exoplanet completes one orbit around its star in 36 days. Gliese 832c is what astronomers call a "super-Earth," because it is at least five times as massive as Earth. It was actually the second planet found around the star Gliese 832. However, the other one, Gliese 832b, is a gas giant that is likely unable to support life.

http://www.space.com/33952-five-nearest-earth-like-alien-planets.html


Artistic representation of the potentially habitable exoplanet Gliese 832 c as compared with Earth. Image credit: PHL / UPR Arecibo.
Artistic representation of the potentially habitable exoplanet Gliese 832 c as compared with Earth. Image credit: PHL / UPR Arecibo.

Image showing the size comparison between our earth and Gliese 832c.

http://www.sci-news.com/astronomy/science-gliese832c-potentially-habitable-super-earth-02029.html

Gliese 667Cc

This exoplanet is also considered a "super-Earth," because it is at least 3.9 times more massive than Earth. It orbits the red dwarf Gliese 667C, which is part of a three-star system that lies 22 light-years away, in the constellation Scorpius. Gliese 667Cc also lies within the habitable zone of its parent star and takes about 28 days to complete one orbit. Astronomers announced the discovery of this alien world in 2011. It was found using the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) 3.6-meter telescope in Chile.

http://www.space.com/33952-five-nearest-earth-like-alien-planets.html


external image Planetas+de+Gliese+667c.jpg

Image showing the solar system of Gliese 667C, indicating the likelyhood of Gliese 667Cc being habitable due to its similar loaction to our earth.

http://pics-about-space.com/location-planet-gliese?p=1

TRAPPIST-1d

This exoplanet orbits around an ultracool dwarf star known as TRAPPIST-1, which lies approximately 40 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Aquarius. TRAPPIST-1d also resides within the habitable zone around its star. Astronomers announced the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system on May 2, 2016. This alien solar system has three potentially Earth-like planets that orbit the dwarf star. Scientists found the TRAPPIST-1 star system and planets using the TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) instrument at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, which is operated by the ESO.

http://www.space.com/33952-five-nearest-earth-like-alien-planets.html



Gliese 163c

This exoplanet also appears potentially habitable and is located 49 light-years from Earth, in the Dorado constellation. Gliese 163c isapproximately seven times the mass of Earth, earning it the title of a "super-Earth." It lies within the habitable zone around a red dwarf star known as Gliese 163 and takes 26 days to complete one orbit. Gliese 163c is one of two alien planets found orbiting the star Gliese 163. Astronomers found this planet using the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), which is mounted on the ESO telescope located at the La Silla Observatory.

http://www.space.com/33952-five-nearest-earth-like-alien-planets.html


Sistema Gliese 163
Sistema Gliese 163

Image of the Gliese 163 solar system showing that Gliese 163c is within the habitable zone.

http://curiosityoflife.altervista.org/blog/en/esopianeti/lista-esopianeti-gliese/



Living on these Planets:

Since Proxima b is so close to Proxima Centauri, the exoplanet likely has one side that constantly faces the star, similar to how the moon always shows the same face to Earth. Astronomers suggest that Proxima Centauri's gravitational pull likely forced Proxima b to become "tidally locked" to the star in this way, so the world has one illuminated side and one dark side. If that is the case, any life on the Proxima b would be very restricted due to extreme temperature variations between the dark and light side, Barclay explained. "There would likely be enormous winds on these planets," Barclay said. "When you have hot areas [on the sunlit side] and cold areas [on the dark side] on a planet, the hot part of the atmosphere moves the cold part, which would produce very strong and fast winds."

http://www.space.com/33952-five-nearest-earth-like-alien-planets.html