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Planets Discovered That May Harbor Life

Three more Earth-like planets have been discovered by the Kepler Telescope, and it is becoming clear to scientists that there are Earth-like planets "everywhere," according to Kepler scientist Tom Barclay. Two of the planets are 1,200 light years away, and the other is 2,700 light years distant.

Kepler 62f and Kepler 62e are the closest to Earth-like. They both orbit a somewhat dimmer star than our own in the constellation Lyra, 1,200 light years away. Traveling at 99% of the speed of light, a starship would pass one day for every year that would pass on Earth. Such a ship could reach the newly discovered solar system in about 6 ship years, but more than a millennium would pass on Earth.

Kepler 62f would be habitable if it has water and an atmosphere. The star's light would be the equivalent of light on Earth on a cloudy day.

It is commonly believed among scientists that travel between stars is impossible because the distances involved are simply too great and the speeds necessary to make it even marginally practical are believed to be impossible to achieve. However, scientists at the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Starship Conference held in 2011 discussed numerous new ideas for interstellar travel, including the possibility of creating a warp drive.

Previously considered the stuff of science fiction, warp drives are now being reconsidered, as the possibility of creating 'folds' or warps in space that would briefly bring two distant points together is coming to seem much more viable than previously considered. Even if one could be created, passing so much as a single photon of light through it was once thought to be enough to destabilize it, but now it appears that they may be stable enough to allow solid matter to pass through.

It would be possible at this time to target Earth-like planets with extremely sensitive radio telescopes to attempt to detect any signals being emitted by them. This would be far more efficient than the wide-spectrum searches now in use.

The image shows the area of space that Kepler is now searching, and where it has found a wealth of planets. It represents a tiny part of just this one galaxy.

On CNN.com, Elizabeth Landau quotes Barclay as saying, "Probably, if there is life (on one of these planets), it would be very unlike what we see on our own world. Future NASA missions are going to focus on more nearby stars that we can look at in much more detail."

While astronomers peer at far away planets, "contactees" are being "visited" right here on Earth! Anne Strieber has recorded 24 of these extraordinary interviews, and if you subscribe today, you can listen to ALL of them!


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