The worlds next door: Looking for habitable planets around Alpha Centauri

Fri, 19 Nov 2021 01:02:08 GMT
Space Daily

Sydney, Australia (SPX) Nov 18, 2021 A mission to discover new planets potentially capable of...

A mission to discover new planets potentially capable of sustaining life around Earth's nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, was announced this week by Sydney University.

The proposed telescope project will look for planets in the 'Goldilocks' zone around the star system just four light years away, where temperatures could allow for liquid surface water on rocky planets.

"The TOLIMAN mission will be a huge step towards finding out if planets capable of supporting life exist there."

"Astronomers have access to amazing technologies that allow us to find thousands of planets circling stars across vast reaches of the galaxy," he said.

"These next-door planets are the ones where we have the best prospects for finding and analyzing atmospheres, surface chemistry and possibly even the fingerprints of a biosphere-the tentative signals of life."

"Pete Klupar, Chief Engineer of Breakthrough Watch, said:"These nearby planets are where humanity will take our first steps into interstellar space using high-speed, futuristic, robotic probes.

"If we consider the nearest few dozen stars, we expect a handful of rocky planets like Earth orbiting at the right distance for liquid surface water to be possible."

"Precision measurement Dr. Eduardo Bendek, a member of the team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said:"Even for the very nearest bright stars in the night sky, finding planets is a huge technological challenge.

Most of the thousands of known planets outside the solar system, called exoplanets, have been discovered using space telescopes such as NASA's Kepler and TESS missions.

Forming planets are one possible explanation for the rings and gaps observed in disks of gas and dust around young stars.

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