Tuesday 10th April 2012

Aliens may live in our solar system

ALIENS could (ALf says are) living on one of Saturn’s moons, scientists say. Star-gazing experts believe Titan, the largest of the planet’s 62 satellites, has all the qualities needed to support extra-terrestrial beings. It tops a new list of moons and planets most likely to harbour life.

The researchers also found a planet called Gliese 581g, part of the Libra constellation, is the most similar to Earth — despite being 123BILLION miles away. Highly habitable … Saturn’s moon Titan It could support humans if mankind moves into outer space, as British genius Stephen Hawking has suggested.

In the paper, published in the journal Astrobiology, the international research team assigned scores to each of the galaxy’s moons and planets. The Planetary Habitability Index (PHI) indicates how likely they are to support alien life, and the Earth Similarity Index (ESI) measures likeness to our own planet. Report author Dr Dirk Schulze-Makuch, from Washington State University, US, said: “The first question is whether Earth-like conditions can be found on other worlds, since we know empirically that those conditions could harbour life. “The second question is whether conditions exist on exoplanets that suggest the possibility of other forms of life, whether known to us or not.” The PHI considers various features of moons and planets, including their atmosphere, energy, surface type and chemical makeup. Titan scored 0.64, followed by Mars on 0.59 and Jupiter’s moon Europa — which is thought to have a warm ocean — on 0.47. The highest scoring planets outside our solar system (exoplanets) were Gliese 581g (0.49) and another planet orbiting the same star, Gliese 581d (0.43). The Gliese 581 system is made up of four or five planets orbiting a red dwarf star. The ESI rates planets based on factors such as size, density and distance from their parent star.

This Gliese 581g (0.49) know to ALf as Corbaatah is one of the planets where life like on his home planet have lived happily for billions of Earth years.

As a starting point, Earth itself has an ESI score of 1.00. The worlds in our own solar system that rated highly were Mars, with a value of 0.70, and Mercury, with 0.60. The highest scores beyond our solar system were again for Gliese 581g with 0.89, and Gliese 581d with 0.74. HD 69830 d, a Neptune-sized exoplanet orbiting a different star in the constellation Puppis, also scored highly (0.60). Scientists have been searching for potentially habitable planets outside our solar system for years. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking recently warned the human race must look to outer space within the next century or it will become extinct. Last year, he said: “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. “Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward-looking on planet Earth but to spread out into space. “We have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years. But if we want to continue beyond the next hundred years, our future is in space. “That is why I’m in favour of manned, or should I say ‘personed’, space flight.” NASA’s Kepler telescope, launched into space in 2009, has found more than 1,000 possible candidates so far.

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