Seeking Earth Outside Our System

    May 9, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

To scientists on Earth, a shift to exploring planetary finds for ones capable of sustaining life should take place.

They have spent the past decade chronicling planets outside our solar system. Technology has limited those finds to Jovian-like gas giants.

But scientists seem to be ready to find smaller planets now. Ones more Earth-like in size, according to researchers.

The purpose of finding those planets will be to find signs of life, a staple of stories from Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, and countless other science fiction authors.

Scientists have to sift through images of stars and countless recordings of their orbital movements. A telltale wobble in a star’s orbit could indicate gravitational pull exerted by an orbiting body, like a planet.

The well-known Hubble Space Telescope has gathered a portion of that data, along with Earth-based telescopes. The available technology will have to continue to advance so researchers can discern what they are seeing.

With a considerable amount of data collected now, some scientists will commit to reviewing it, to see if perhaps one of those alleged gas giants may be something more interesting than previously thought.

Governments will have to be convinced of the value of this research. Many projects like the Hubble require development, deployment, and ongoing maintenance, and all of these functions require millions of dollars. The continued commitment of governments to extraplanetary exploration has not been determined.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.