Earth II discovered just 20 light years away, UN to debate establishing diplomatic relations with aliens
Artists impression of Earth II and Gliese 581. Credit: Reuters
In a “Woohoo” moment for astronomers, scientists, and their fans…the first potentially Earth like planet has been discovered orbiting a nearby star. It orbits the star Gliese 581 which is just over 20 light years from Earth. Granted 20 light years is a little beyond our current ability to send probes, but it’s still right next door in the greater scheme of things. Granted saying Earth II is Earth like is a bit of a stretch, it’s about 1.5 times the size of the Earth and its surface temperature is between 0 C (32F) and 40 C (105F) degrees. That’s definitely ball park, and definitely within the range where liquid water can exist.
And that’s about all that is known right now. It could be a barren ball of rock, it could be covered with a world ocean, it could be a ball of gas like Neptune. However, it could be teeming with life, and every effort is going to be made to determine everything we can about Earth II. It orbits a much smaller redder sun than Earth, and thus orbits much closer to its sun than Earth. A year on Earth II is just 13 days long, eep. This means the planet is likely tidally locked to its sun, the way the Moon is to the Earth. In other words, the same side of the planet always faces its sun. So one side of Earth II would be way too hot for life, the other side perpetually frozen. At the terminator though, the edge between the light and dark sides of the planet, Earth like conditions could still exist, even though there would be constant hurricane force winds.
On the announcement of the news, bookmakers reduced the odds of discovering other intelligent life in the universe from 1000 to 1 all the way down to 100 to 1. They are probably being overly cautious, but bookmakers got badly burned in the sixties when they offered 1000 to 1 odds that man would walk on the Moon by 1970. They paid out over a million dollars in that little bet, they aren’t taking any chances this time.
On the subject of extraterrestrial intelligent life, a few weeks ago the UN announced in a press release that the United Nations General Assembly will debate “establishing diplomatic relations with advanced Extraterrestrial Civilizations that may now be visiting Earth.” Yes, that’s right, the UN is going to debate establishing diplomatic relations with aliens “…that may now be visiting Earth.” I’m not sure what to make of that, either the UN has way too much time on their hands, or they know something they aren’t telling us. And you thought the headline above was just another of my little jokes. :P
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is central to illustrating the post and it is not being used for profit. There was a science fiction show called Earth 2 by the way, and it was released on DVD a few years back. I really liked the show and was saddened when it was cancelled after just one season, though it is only for science fiction fans and doesn’t have broad appeal.)