Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Solar System Far, Far Away

NASA's announcement yesterday about the seven Earth-size planets arrayed in the Trappist-1 solar system have renewed the excitement about discovering or uncovering life outside of our own Earth.

I admit it is exciting. The Trappist-1 system seems so close and yet it is so far away. The system is 40 light years away--that is 40 continuous years of traveling at the speed of light just to get there. As a species, we have not yet devised any vehicle that can travel anything nearly that fast. 

The fastest space probe to date is the Juno probe, which upon arriving at Jupiter was cruising at about 165,000 miles per hour. At that speed it would take about 162 thousand years to get there. Even using the expected velocity of Space Probe Plus, due to launch in 2018, of 450,000 mph, it would still take 59 thousand years to get there. That is a very long time!

I can hear Buzz Lightyear shouting, "To infinity . . . and beyond!"

We still need to take better care of our own home. Global warming is a fact; not a theory.

It was nice to have something different headline the news yesterday.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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