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Introduction: For centuries, human beings have been thinking about this question.

Scholars from a long time ago speculated that other worlds must exist and that some would harbor other forms of life. In our time, advances in science and technology have brought us to only the beginning of finding an answer to this question. The recent discovery of numerous planets that orbit another stars other than our sun confirms that our solar system is not the only one. Indeed, these "exoplanets" (a planet that orbits a star) appear to be very common the universe. The exoplanets we have discovered so far are giants, like Jupiter. They are unlikely to support life as we know it. But some of these planetary systems might also contain smaller, planets like Mars and Earth, which might have good conditions that can support life. Theory of Finding Planets in the "Galactic Habitable Zone" A "habitable zone" referes to a region of space around a star where a planet would be able to keep water in liquid state. Meaning that the temprature on a planet should no be too hot, nor too c old. In addition, it should contains the neccessarymix of fundamental elements and compounds to provide the necessary building blocks for life. All of these requirementsmust also should be balanced. For example, excessive amounts of very high energy radiation such as X-rays and gamma-rays would seriously slow the development of even basic life. As well, a planet that expected to host lifeis not supposed to be in a high density region in space.

Also, it should be near galactic center in order to avoid high energy radiation from nearly continuous supernovae (exploding stars). "Galactic Habitable Zone" is controversially estimated at less than 10% of the galaxy. This region is star poor; most of the galaxies stars in the plane are in the bulge (inner third of the galaxy) and in the arms. So we may only be left with 1% of the galaxy's stars or maybe less.

How to search for planets Technology S.E.T.I (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) The Beginning About 50 years ago, an astronomer named Frank Drake came up with the idea to use the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Virginia to search for radio signals that could be sent out by intelligent beings from another world. This work carried on for about 11 years, when NASA decided to undertake a similar project headed by Jill Tarter. Based on that work, she came up with the idea of creating an institute that would combine the efforts of all th e various groups from around the world. So, she, Drake and Thomas Pierson founded the S.E.T.I. institute in November, 1984. The institute formally began operations in February 1985, primarily using the Allen Telescope Array in northern California. The array uses 42 antennae to search for radio signals from deep space.

The Work of S.E.T.I. At its surface, the work of S.E.T.I. may sound like child's play or science fiction. But the work of the institute extends will beyond simply waiting for messages from little green men. Of course there is a component of the research that entails searching for radio signals from other worlds, but the data is useful in more ways than just looking for life. Radio astronomy is a key component of astronomy as a whole. So the contributions of S.E.T.I. directly impact our knowledge of the Universe by contributing significant amounts of data. But instead of just waiting for signals, the S.E.T.I. institute is also proactive in seeking out possible life on other worlds. They also w ork with NASA on the Kepler project. This undertaking is designed to search for extra solar planets -- planets outside our solar system -- particularly those that could support life. Another component to S.E.T.I.'s work is to study the various environments here on Earth. By doing so, scientists know better what to look for in other "habitable" planets. This information also tells us how a habitable planet can evolve, leading to clues as to where such planets would be located.

KeplerMission Project Kepler is a NASA spacecraft equipped with a space observatory designed to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.[4] The spacecraft is named in honor of German astronomer Johannes Kepler.[5] The spacecraft was launched on March 7, 2009,[6] with a planned mission lifetime of at least 3.5 years.[7]

The KeplerMission, is specifically designed to search a portion of our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover dozens of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets. Results from this mission will allow us to place our solar system within the continuum of planetary systems in the Galaxy. The scientific objective of the Kepler Mission is to explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems. This is achieved by surveying a large sample of stars and collecting various data such as:
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Determining the sizes and shapes of the orbits of these planets. Estimating how many planets there are in multiple-star systems; Identify additional members of each discovered planetary system using other techniques.

Determining the properties of those stars that harbor planetary systems.

Detecting extrasolar planets When a planet crosses in front of its star as viewed by an observer, the event is called a transit. Transits by terrestrial planets produce a small change in a star's brightness This change must be periodic if it is caused by a planet. In addition, all transits produced by the same planet must be of the same change in brightness and last the same amount of time, thus providing a highly repeatable signal and robust detection method. Once detected, the planet's orbital size can be calculated from the period (how long it takes the planet to orbit once around the star) and the mass. The size of the planet is found from the depth of the transit (how much the brightness of the star

drops) and the size of the star. From the orbital size and the temperature of the star, the planet's characteristic temperature can be calculated. Knowing the temperature of a planet is key to whether or not the planet is habitable (not necessarily inhabited). Only planets with moderate temperatures are habitable for life similar to that found on Earth.
Habitable planets While data analysis is still underway, the initial results from the Kepler mission revealed 1,235 planet candidates, 54 of them were orbiting their host star in what is called "habitable zone". These detections are indications of planetcandidates. Very few of them have actually been confirmed yet as planets. Their true identity will be revealed in the future. Let's assume that these objects are indeed planets. The numbers reported above are impressive, but it s no as impressive considering thatthere are at least 200 billion stars in our Galaxy. Kepler did not search the entire galaxy, it actually only searched only one four-hundreth of the sky. This likely will find a small fraction of the planets in our galaxy. More data is accumulated and the number of candidates will increase. Extending out to the rest of the galaxy, scientists estimate that the Milky Way could contain upwards of 50 billion planet, 500 million of which could be in the habitable zone. This is only for our galaxy, what about other billions probably billions more galaxies in the universe, which are too far away and probably will never be able explore.

Interstellar travel Interstellar distance Astronomical distances are often measured in the speed of light, which is the time it would take a beam of light to travel between two points. Light in a vacuum travels approximately 300,000 kilometers per second. The distance from Earth to the Moon is 1.3 light-seconds. With current spacecraft technology, a craft cantake the distance from the Earth to the Moon in around eight hours. The distance from Earth to other planets in the solar system ranges from three light-minutes to about four light-hours. For a typical spacecraft these trips will take from a few months to overten years. The nearest known star to the Sun is Proxima Centauri, which is 4.23 light -years away. With current technology, a trip to that star would take 72, 000 years. And No current technology can propel a craft fast enough to reach other stars in under 50 years. Interstellar Communication The long distance will cause delay in communication between earth and a spacecraft or a probe. Given that information can t travel faster than the speed of light, the information will take 8 years to travel between earth the nearest star which is 4.23 light-years. Methods of Interstellar travel Nuclear rockets technology exist but still is not effective enough for interstellar travel. Problems like the need of a lot of energy and carry fuel. This technology can only decrease the time of travelling to stars from centuries to decades at speeds that only is 10% of light-speed.

There are methods that do not involve rockets but we re not going to cover this today.Ideas about using black holes. There are other slower methods: like generation ships and many other ideas Many other ideas are still not feasible but if we think few years back, we didn t think it s possible that we can land on the moon, and maybe there will be a breakthrough in science that will make us able to travel in higher speeds.


Questions 1. This kind of research requires a lot of resources and money. Do you think we are wasting our time money? 2. Do you think there will be any impact if we discovered any earth like planets or any other form of life? 3. An interesting idea about interstellar travel was mentioned in the presentation, which is the generation ship. What is your opinion about this regarding the ethics? Do you think we have the right to decide for a generation to live and maybe die in the space? 4. Do you think that human will consider the idea of colonizing other planets? What impact on humanity do you think will happen?