The Search For Earth II

The search for an extra-solar planet with the same composition and size as Earth – therefore a good contender for the presence of life – is rendered extremely difficult by the glare of the star it orbits, and has often been compared to “looking for a firefly next to a searchlight.” Two scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, USA, have devised a new method to mask the glare of the star and thus increase the chances of finding a much dimmer body close to it.

Science-fiction fans may rejoice at the prospect of discovering a twin planet to ours, but we still will have a long way to go before we can build space ships able to travel to what will certainly be a very distant world. Whatever other life there may be in the Universe, it is still quite safe from Mankind’s interference.

For the first time ever, NASA researchers have successfully demonstrated in the laboratory that a space telescope rigged with special masks and mirrors could snap a photo of an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. This accomplishment marks a dramatic step forward for missions like the proposed Terrestrial Planet Finder, designed to hunt for an Earth twin that might harbor life.

Source: Science Daily

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