27 January 2010

A prediction I would like to come true

Earlier this week Professor Michel Mayor, of Geneva University predicted that I earnestly hope comes true: The prediction is that astronomers will detect the first Earth-like planet outside the solar system during 2010

Addressing a Royal Society conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme, Prof. Mayor (who led the team that discovered the first exoplanet in 1995) said: “The search for twins of Earth is motivated by the ultimate prospect of finding sites with favourable conditions for the development of life. We’ve entered a new phase in this search.”

Over the last 15 years more than 400 exoplanets have been discovered. However, very few if any of them are likely to be viable candidates for incubating life, as most of them are too large.
He said that Nasa’s Kepler spacecraft will be the first to find an earth like planet. Kepler, which has been in orbit around the Sun since March last year, is focused on a dense star field in the Orion spiral arm of the Milky Way. Monitoring more than 100,000 stars every half-hour for three years, it is looking for variations in the brightness of stars caused by planets as small as Earth passing in front of them.

Professor Paul Davies, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University, also spoke. “When I was a student, I couldn’t find anyone who took the idea of life elsewhere in the Universe seriously. Now it’s pretty much the party line in the scientific community. A big part of that has been the discovery of extrasolar planets,” he said.

It would be great to hear of the discovery or an earth-like planet this year... if not then next year!

9 comments:

Sean Jeating said...

May be. Would be interesting.
However, I'd not be surprised if the master of SETI in 2010 rather than an earth-like planet discover a Yeti. :)

James Higham said...

Of course, we could always move to another dimension.

CherryPie said...

It would indeed be a fascinating find.

Claudia said...

As long as we arrive there with friendly intentions. The aliens in North America would have been better without our visit...

jams o donnell said...

Haha Sean!

Now that's a thought James

It is one of those things that does fascinate me Cherie

That is so true. I fear that we won't though

susan said...

I don't know. Even if we found one with a biosphere amenable to life (even without a highly developed species) it's still unlikely it would be amenable to us. Then again, getting anywhere close isn't likely either.

jams o donnell said...

THe number of viable planets will be a fraction of the total but I do hope it comes true...

Pouty said...

Wow, how wonderful it was to see you feature someone from my neck of the desert. Actually he originally was from London. You may be interested in knowing that the new field of science which deals with searching for life beyond earth is called astrobiology.

jams o donnell said...

He certainly is an interesting man Pouty. I hope he is proved right on this one. I hope to live long enought for an astrobiologist to make the first discovery however primitive