Saturday, January 12, 2013

Most Earth-Like Planet Ever Found Outside the Solar System Discovered


Currently called KOI 172.02 the reason this planet has produced so much excitement is that it is the first habitable-zone super Earth found around a star of same type as the sun. However close examination shows that calling  it "Earth-Like" is most likely in accurate. First of all the use of the term "Earth-Like" is actually some deceptive since it congers up in the most people's minds a planet really like Earth. That being filled with life and one the we could someday visit and find intelligent life. However before you pack your bags there are a few facts that you should known that probably make this planet anything but truly Earth like.


The first is that its radius is 1.5 times that of Earth. Now while that does not seem like much it means that if its average density is the same as Earth its mass would be 3.375 times that of the Earth with would mean a surface gravity of 1.5 g's. Put another way a 200lbs man would weigh 300lbs. This means that most people could not even stand up and if they could they would be barely able to walk. Now if this planet has a composition similar to Earth that it would actually be closer to 4 time the mass of the Earth. For this planet to have a 1g surface gravity its average density would have to be 44% that of Earth's which means it would lack a lot of substances that make life possible on Earth.


Second while orbits a star similar to the sun is it orbits at just 75% the distance to its star as the Earth does to the sun and has a year of about 242 Earth days. Venus on the other hand has a planet much closer to the Earth in size orbits the sun at 72% the distance of the Earth and has year of 224 Earth days. So in terms of orbit KOI 172.02 is far more like Venus than it is like the Earth. Now since this planet would have likely have a higher surface gravity than the Earth its atmosphere would probably be denser thus trapping more heat from its star and being closer to its star it would get more heat than the Earth and so it would be quite a bit hotter than the Earth, almost certainly too hot for life.


So given all this why all the excitement over what is most likely as supper Venus. The reason is an almost desperate desire to evidence of life some place, in fact any place other than the Earth. The reason for this desperation is that the Earth is unique it that it is the only known planet to support life and that fact suggest divine creation, a notion many of the atheists in the scientific establishment would love to squash. Connected to this notion is a desire from proof that abiogenesis (life from non-life)  is possible the notion being that finding life some place else in the universe would show that abiogenesis is not only possible but likely. However the flaw in this logic is the finding a second planet with life does not reduce the odds one bit. Furthermore beyond abiogenesis the desire to prove that the Earth is not unique is philosophical requirement of  atheistic thinking. Now that is not to say every involved in this project is an atheists but the tendency to jump on any planet that is not a gas giant and in its star's habitable zone as being Earth-Like definitely stems from the atheistic desire to show that the Earth is not unique. However despite all the effort and 100's of extrasolar planets discovered the real fact is that the Earth is still unique and its uniqueness become more pronounced with each new planet not less.



Most Earth-Like Alien Planet Possibly Found



------ Charles Creager Jr.

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