Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tau Ceti has habitable-zone planet

At only 12 light years away, Tau Ceti has long featured in science fiction space opera as home to a colony planet when humankind has spread to nearby stars.

The planet announced today has five times the mass of the Earth (and therefore - if the same radius - five times the gravity .. but it could well be bigger). Still, it's early days and even more Earth-like planets are probably buried away in instrument-noise.

The first thing to do is to get a spectrum from the planet's atmosphere. This is the fastest way to get an early indication of life (or potential for colonisation). Assume it looked interesting: the dilemma is then whether to invest in better solar system imaging technology accepting we're 12 ly away vs. launching an instrumented probe to get a closer look. They're both hard problems but would be great challenges. Let's hope for life-signs.
This morning I signed up to annual gym membership by DD and proceeded to obsessionally exhaust myself. Great!