Wednesday, April 25, 2007
The New Planet is a Tease!
Good news! They've found a potentially earthlike planet that could- assuming it is earthlike- support life.
It's called. Gliese 581 c.
Bad news! It's 20.5 light years away.
That's over 14 trillion miles!
Remember Voyager 1? That flying lawn chair we launched in the 70's that took those cool pictures of Jupiter and Saturn? It's one of the fastest things we've sent into space, going 38400 mph and sorta in the right direction* It'll get there in about ....358011 years.** So much for marking my calender.
How Annoying. Even if it is inhabited with creatures, it's too far away for us to observe them.
It's like I'm a kid and it's a cool toy on a shelf I can't reach.
Gliese 581c ( and they'll have to do something about that name***) is a tease!
*sorta. From an earthly perspective they're a constellation apart. (Gliese 581 c is in Libra, Voyager 1 is in Ophiuchus****) Saying Voyager 1 will reach X because of this is like saying a postcard to Portugal will end up in Italy since they're nearby on the map. Voyager 1 won't end up anywhere near there.
**a more math savvy pal says 357011 is the correct number.
***Okay, I know it's a technical name because it's one of many on a list of nearby stars, but it sounds funny out of context. Like it's a pharmaceutical.:"Maybe you should ask your doctor about Gliese581c"
****my inner nerd insists that "in" libra means, if you could see it from earth, it would appear to be in the patch of sky we've named Libra. My inner nerd is no fun.