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Captain Pike's Ship Log II

I Want to Travel

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I was reading today that they have found a star in the constellation Libra that has planets that could support life. One planet, in particular, is inside the, "Hospitable Zone".

Using the Doppler effect of light, they can measure the slightly changing hues in the color of the star to measure what's called, radial velocity, RV. RV is the movement along the line between it and us. By analyzing RV, they can tell how many and what size planets are orbiting around the star!

As a planet goes around its sun, it moves the sun around a little, as it goes. This, "wobbling", tells the tale of what all is orbiting a star. I'll bet it's pretty far out mathematics. Differential Photometry. Anyway, this particular star is about 20 light years from us. It is a red dwarf star, not as bright as our sun, in fact, you can't even see it without a telescope.

Somehow, they can tell that this planet, going around, "Gliese 581", is big -- probably three or four times the size of Earth, and, get this. It is, what they call, "tidily locked", which means that one side of the planet is always facing its sun. That would mean that, day and night would be fixed -- there would be one bright side of the planet, and one dark -- always, unmoving. The best place to live on such a planet, would be along the terminator -- you could move, east or west, to have more or less sunshine -- can you imagine?! I mean, it would be totally different than life here, but something could live there for sure.

Just imagine, maybe some of our grand children (or their grandchildren) might embark on a completely different kind of expedition -- it would take several generations to get there, going at the kinds of speeds we know about (50,000 to 100,000 miles an hour).

When I first started thinking about this, I thought, what a screwed up life it would be, a bunch of people, traveling on a spaceship, knowing that their only purpose, was to continue their species on until the next generation. Kids would be born on a spaceship, knowing that they would never reach their destination, that there first order of business was to grow up and have kids, whose offspring might someday see a new world.

But then I thought, what's the point of our existence? I mean, surely on this spaceship, they could have other things to do, entertainment things. And they could study the universe from their moving laboratory. It might not be that bad, PLUS, they would know that some day, some of their kin folk would be emissaries to a whole new world! Or, they would come to a place hospitable for life, and establish a new colony there! That would be a pretty cool thing to know you were trying to do, wouldn't it? Imagine, showing up on a new planet, representing humanity!

Someday, if we don't blow ourselves to smithereens first, this will be what everyone is talking about.


  1. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    Informative! You had my imagination fixated for a few minutes.
  2. Virgil's Avatar
    I heard about this too and i did not catch how far it was. 20 light years is not exactly close. I have to say that inter solar system travel is unimaginable with existing technology or any remotely possible technology. I think humanity is doomed in this solar system, which means this planet. Any thing else is just sci-fi imagination. But i could be wrong.
  3. Ely_Massacre's Avatar
    Nice way to conclude this. [; But wow, this is so exciting. =D I'm extremely fascinated with astronomy and astrology, so hearing this news really has my head buzzing. And the picture makes it that much easier to imagine it. Thanks for sharing!
  4. Dreamwoven's Avatar
    I'm also very interested in astronomy, nice ideas imagined here. I had never thought what a tidally locked planet might be like to live on...