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Most important discovery of humankind on its way

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posted on May, 14 2011 @ 05:40 PM
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Okay, where to begin?


With this paper, I want to demonstrate that we are probably living in the most important century for the humankind, as (and this is not only a strong intuition) there's no doubt in my mind that the final proof of extraterrestrial life will be found within the century.

Indeed, as scientific technology progress nowadays in an exponential way, there is an increasing volume of clues that undoubtely shows that we will not have to wait anymore longer for the scientific indeniable proof of extraterrestrial life outside of solar system to emerge.

I'll try to list these clues here for you, feel free to comment and criticize!


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1- Extrasolar planets detection history

- Since the first published, confirmed discovery made in 1988 (Gamma Cephei A planet) by the Canadian astronomers Bruce Campbell, G. A. H. Walker, and S. Yang, there was an increasing numbers of discoveries that can be listed as below:
- In 1992, Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail discovered thatthe pulsar PSR B1257+12 has three planets (a, b and c)
- In October 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the University of Geneva announced the first definitive detection of an exoplanet orbiting an ordinary main-sequence star (51 Pegasi b


Bellerophon

- Since then, the exoplanet catalog, regularly updated, never cease to increase the amount of new discoveries, to gain the number of 548 as of today, including 68 Earth-size planets
This increasing volume is due to the constant progress of the detection techniques:

2- Methods of detecting extrasolar planets

Any planet is an extremely faint light source compared to its parent star. In addition to the intrinsic difficulty of detecting such a faint light source, the light from the parent star causes a glare that washes it out. For those reasons, only a very few extrasolar planets have been observed directly.

Instead, astronomers have generally had to resort to indirect methods to detect extrasolar planets. At the present time, several different indirect methods have yielded success:

The number of various methods also never cease to increase, until today, thus the increasing number of discoveries as well.
We can separate them in 10:
- Radial velocity
- Astrometry: with radial velocity, gave better results as of today, with 419 planetary systems, 500 planets and 50 multiple-planets systems.
- Pulsar timing, note that the main drawback of the pulsar-timing method is that pulsars are relatively rare, so it is unlikely that a large number of planets will be found this way. Also, life as we know it could not survive on planets orbiting pulsars since high-energy radiation there is extremely intense.
- Transit method (that includes transit timing variation method (TTV) and transit duration variation method (TDV)), with a result of 121 planetary systems, 128 planets and 10 multiple-planets systems.
- Gravitational microlensing, with a result of 11 planetary systems, 12 planets and 1 multiple-planets system.
- Direct imaging, with a result of 21 planetary systems, 24 planets and 1 multiple-planets system.


Direct image of exoplanets around the star HR8799 using a vortex coronograph on a 1.5m portion of the Hale telescope

- Eclipsing binary minima timing, with a result of 7 planetary systems, 12 planets and 4 multiple-planets systems.
- Orbital phase reflected light variations
- Polarimetry
- Auroral radio emissions

3- Resizing things....

Our recents discoveries (548 extrasolar planets including 68 potentially Earth-size planets) must be appreciated for what it worth, i-e only a tiny part of what the reality is probably, and here are the reasons why:

- Distance is still an obstacle: discoveries methods can only be used in a combination way for relatively nearby stars out to about 160 light-years from Earth (exceptionnally up to 300 light-years):



.... And that's only for our Galaxy, besides the 170 billion (1.7 × 1011) galaxies in the observable universe....

- The above have to be balanced with the fact that the moderns missions, responsible of most of the recent discoveries, has just begun: for example, as of February 2011, NASA's Kepler mission had identified 1,235 unconfirmed planetary candidates associated with 997 host stars, based on the first four months of data from the space-based telescope, including 54 that may be in the habitable zone.
1235/54 in only four months.... Let's imagine how much have to be discovered yet, with a planned mission lifetime of at least 3.5 years.




- Transit discoveries method have disadvantages: planetary transits are only observable for planets whose orbits happen to be perfectly aligned from the astronomers' vantage point. The probability of a planetary orbital plane being directly on the line-of-sight to a star is the ratio of the diameter of the star to the diameter of the orbit. About 10% of planets with small orbits have such alignment, and the fraction decreases for planets with larger orbits. For a planet orbiting a sun-sized star at 1 AU, the probability of a random alignment producing a transit is 0.47%.
It let a huge amount of possibilities for Earth-like planets to be discovered outside this range....

4- Upcoming missions increasing our chances

Besides the actual search programs (Kepler, COROT, Spitzer Space Telescop, TESS, New Worlds Mission, there are several upcoming projects such as PLATO, Terrestrial Planet finder and the very promising European Extremely Large Telescope: a mirror of approximately 42 metres (138 ft) would allow the study of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets.

Complex form-life means complex molecules to be found, and iIt has been estimated that a telescope with a diameter of 80 meters would be able to spectroscopically analyse Earth-size planets around the 40 nearest sun-like stars.
As such, this telescope could help in the exploration of extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial life (because the spectrum from the planets could indicate the presence of molecules indicative of life).

Such an incredible telescope can technically be feasible: this is the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope:


The Overwhelmingly Large Telescope (OWL) is a conceptual design by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) organization for an extremely large telescope, which was intended to have a single aperture of 100 meters in diameter. Because of the complexity and cost of building a telescope of this unprecedented size, ESO has elected to focus on the 42 meter diameter European Extremely Large Telescope instead.

While the original 100-m design would not exceed the angular resolving power of interferometric telescopes, it would have exceptional light-gathering and imaging capacity which would greatly increase the depth to which humankind could explore the universe. The OWL could be expected to regularly see astronomical objects with an apparent magnitude of 38; or 1,500 times fainter than the faintest object which has been detected by the Hubble Space Telescope.

All proposed designs for the OWL are variations on a segmented mirror, since there is no technology available to build a monolithic 60- or 100-meter mirror. The operation of a segmented mirror is somewhat more complicated than a monolithic one, requiring careful alignment of the segments (a technique called cophasing). Experience gained in existing segmented mirrors (for example, the Keck telescope) suggests that the mirror proposed for the OWL is feasible


The only obstacles are the cost (of around €1.5 billion), and the competition between the various projects of building 30 meters telescopes.
Only a worlwide consensus could lead to the construction of a 80 meters telescope, this is actualy not the case, but there's already a very active worlwide scientific community, and one of their future challenge will be to convince politics and backers.
Looking back to the eighties, we thought that it would be impossible to build a 30 meters telescope (in a monolothic mirror), but time proved that scientific ingenuity was able to get around this problem, using the new segmented hexagonal mirrors technology.

So I'm confident that the built of a 80 meters telescope will not be anymore an insurmontable problem in the near future.



I said at the beginning of my talk that this will be the most important discovery of the mankind, and that it will occurs within the century (and to be honest, I hope that it will happen in my lifetime!
), but let's also hope that this discovery will not be kept under secrecy.
edit on 14-5-2011 by elevenaugust because: (no reason given)
edit on 14-5-2011 by elevenaugust because: spelling




posted on May, 14 2011 @ 05:46 PM
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Thanks for posting,very interesting stuff. Do you feel without actually venturing out into space (even with probes), we would be able to determine if life existed on any of these planets with the telescope alone?



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 05:50 PM
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With the billions and billions of planets out there I think it would be naive to think there is not life out there somewhere. Humans have painted and carved images of what appears to be alien beings for thousands of years.



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 05:54 PM
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reply to post by elevenaugust
 


Good post.


All those new planets and new methods of finding planets are great, but they do not bring us closer to the answer to the question: "Is Earth they only planet harbouring life?"



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 05:56 PM
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I'm reading it right now, will gather some of my own thoughts and give some input soon.

Nice post S&F.



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 06:04 PM
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2010 Discovery of 'Star Child Skull' - DNA results are in and show an Alien Hybrid.

www.youtube.com...



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 06:13 PM
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This is a great thread and very informative on the actual techniques of detecting planets. We can't really see them, we can only detect their chemical compounds by inferring lots of different data.

Let me ask you elevenaugust if you have heard of the The Darwin Space Interferometer, and if your birthday is August 11th, mine is the 1st. Anyway, I understand the Darwin is to use solar orbital receivers of three and up to six to increase the focal length of visible light telescopes with extra visible light detection as well and send the data to a collector/assembler to transmit the data of an assembled image within and beyond the visible spectrum, to actually see the planets. Funding of the effort has ceased.

Darwin presentation
Darwin spacecraft

James Webb Telescope

I'm a little rusty on the technology since I read about it a while ago and didn't save links, but I understand the technique of linking data from telescopes around the world effectively magnifies detail somehow, there is a term for that.



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 06:17 PM
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S & F'd you may want to add this beauty to the list. I believe its going to make huge steps in many fields of astronomy and science.

Square Kilometre Array

I too believe we will find life somewhere else other than our Earth most likely in our Solar System somewhere first. Then we will hopefully have figured out FTL(Faster-Than-Light) Travel so we can reach other Solar systems with probes within our life times



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 06:18 PM
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Big Fat S & F

Nice post.
Great links and attention to detail.

Thanks for posting this for us.



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 06:25 PM
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reply to post by Illustronic
 


Sad to see things like this ....



According to NASA's 2007 budget documentation, released on February 6, 2006,[1] the project was deferred indefinitely.[2] In June 2006, a House of Representatives subcommittee voted to provide funding for the TPF along with the long-sought mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter that might harbor extraterrestrial life.[3] However, as of June 2008, actual funding has not materialized, and TPF remains without a launch date


This one however is extremely Intriguing
TESS
Its basically a Kepler type mission but instead of searching far-away stars(155,000 Stars for Kepler) its searching 2 relatively million nearby stars for transits and is supposed to find 10,000's of nearby planets which will then be viewed possibly by the JWST; some of which will be Earth sized...

Good stuff.



edit on 14-5-2011 by TheUniverse because: (no reason given)
edit on 14-5-2011 by TheUniverse because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 06:43 PM
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reply to post by TheUniverse
 


We need to get space telescopes out of LEO, I like the concept of the Lagrangian points position of earth's orbit or beyond, like the multiple scopes of the Darwin proposal. I would also like a propulsion method developed that can send a scope like the James Webb directly up from our orbital plane, and one day out of the galactic orbital plane. There you could see forever!



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 07:04 PM
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reply to post by elevenaugust
 


S&F
Really good post - thank you.

I too think that we will make life-changing discoveries, possibly within my lifetime.
The thought fills me with both awe and trepidation and I can't help but think 'be careful what you wish for'.
Exciting times.



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 07:09 PM
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reply to post by elevenaugust
 

Great post and information S&F!

I too believe that we are living in one of the most important periods of discovery in the history of mankind. I still look up at the stars and wish we could fly around exploring in person.



posted on May, 14 2011 @ 11:23 PM
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Havent read it all yet, in abit of a rush but,

We can only see 1/10th of the visible universe, so even though we think there is only that habitable zone, there could be so much more...



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 03:21 AM
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Forgive me for being a bit dim, but since when was it that extraterrestrial life "didn't" exist? Further more, when did acknowledging said existences become a secret?



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 05:28 AM
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Originally posted by Ultraman2011
Thanks for posting,very interesting stuff. Do you feel without actually venturing out into space (even with probes), we would be able to determine if life existed on any of these planets with the telescope alone?

Thanks,

Yes, I do believe it! We already detected organic molecules in exoplanet atmosphere at least two years ago, but this is not enough for saying that life do exist on this planet.
There are other conditions needed, such as:
1- Earth-sized planet
2- Located in the habitable zone:



By analyzing the colors of infrared radiation detected by TPF (Terrestrial Planet Finder, with a coronagraph and interferometer), astronomers can search for atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and ozone. Together with the temperature and radius of the detected planets, this information will allow astronomers to determine which planets are habitable, or even whether they may be inhabited by rudimentary forms of life.

3- The presence of Ozone + nitrous oxide or methane:


Follow the Ozone
The existence of large amounts of oxygen in a planet's atmosphere alone would be a strong indicator of life.
In the Earth's atmosphere, oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis, the process by which green plants and certain other organisms use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates.
Furthermore, oxygen molecules don't remain in the atmosphere, but combine with other molecular types in a process known as oxidation.
Therefore, a planet with an atmosphere rich in oxygen (like Earth) would imply a source to keep it replenished (life).
However, we know of non-biological processes that can also result in an oxygen-rich atmosphere. The runaway greenhouse effect on Venus is one example. A frozen, Mars-like planet big enough to hold its oxygen would be another.
So, the presence of oxygen alone -- while exciting and significant -- couldn't be taken as an unambiguous indicator of life. Furthermore, oxygen doesn't produced spectral lines that can be easily observed in the infrared. However, ozone, a form of oxygen, does.
The detection of ozone coexisting with a reduced gas such as nitrous oxide or methane could be taken as convincing evidence not only that a planet is habitable -- but that it may be inhabited.
Such large-scale clues can't tell us about the complexity of the discovered life; it could be either algae or a developed civilization. It is also possible that planets without oxygen could sustain life.
Photosynthesis might conceivably occur with another element, such as sulfur, playing the role of oxygen. In the search for life, we must control our preconceived assumptions of what it means to be living.


Furthermore:


The findings of Terrestrial Planet Finder would guide a possible subsequent mission called Life Finder. Like its predecessor, Life Finder would consist of an array of telescopes flying in formation. The telescopes would combine infrared light to produce high-resolution spectra of the atmospheres of distant planets.
Scientists would use this information to search more closely for markers of biological activity, such as seasonal variations in the levels of methane and other gases, changes in atmospheric chemistry and spectral variations in the dominant biomass.


source

I showed that both point 1- and 2- were already respected, by the recents exoplanets findings, so we are waiting for point 3- to be found, which is not an insurmontable task; we have the technology, the have the abilities, time will work in this direction.



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 05:31 AM
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Originally posted by dragonbreath
With the billions and billions of planets out there I think it would be naive to think there is not life out there somewhere. Humans have painted and carved images of what appears to be alien beings for thousands of years.



Originally posted by daveyboy1991
Havent read it all yet, in abit of a rush but,

We can only see 1/10th of the visible universe, so even though we think there is only that habitable zone, there could be so much more...


Sure, and this could be an incredible way to confirm our long-drawn-out intuition to finally prove without a doubt that life do exist on exoplanet, using scientific tools!
edit on 15-5-2011 by elevenaugust because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 06:22 AM
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Originally posted by Illustronic
This is a great thread and very informative on the actual techniques of detecting planets. We can't really see them, we can only detect their chemical compounds by inferring lots of different data.

Let me ask you elevenaugust if you have heard of the The Darwin Space Interferometer, and if your birthday is August 11th, mine is the 1st. Anyway, I understand the Darwin is to use solar orbital receivers of three and up to six to increase the focal length of visible light telescopes with extra visible light detection as well and send the data to a collector/assembler to transmit the data of an assembled image within and beyond the visible spectrum, to actually see the planets. Funding of the effort has ceased.

Darwin presentation
Darwin spacecraft

James Webb Telescope

I'm a little rusty on the technology since I read about it a while ago and didn't save links, but I understand the technique of linking data from telescopes around the world effectively magnifies detail somehow, there is a term for that.


Thanks, Illustronic!

Yes I'm aware of the Darwin project and thanks for the PDF link about the ESA projects, very instructive.
Nice to see all the ground-breaking projects coming from the ESA, hopefully, fundings will not be an obstacle anymore to the progress towards the confirmation of life-forms in exoplanets.

Anyway, one of the most technical promising approach for detecting life in exoplanets is the nulling interferometry: a "nulling interferometer," observes planets in infrared light, where they are easier to detect. It is designed to combine starlight captured by four different telescopes, arranging the light waves from the star in such a way that they cancel each other out. making the stasr look dimmer -- basically turning it off.



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 06:31 AM
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Detecting life and intelligent life can be separated by 3.5 billion years using the earth as the base model.

Sure, mission Stardust returned to earth evidence of organic compounds from a comet, I believe comet Wild 2, but that is not an indication of life or even suspended life, let alone an indication of sustainable life. What is does prove is what we suspected all along, is that under extreme conditions spontaneous generation of minerals can create the building blocks of organic reproducible compounds, yet more research is needed to prove that it could lead to 'living' cellular life.

The term 'life' is thrown around with vague particulars so much today its hard to determine if one is talking about fossilized similarities in decay or actual swimming bacteria capable of reproduction in a sustainable environment. We can take all of the measurements we can dream up and infer this indicates life but without In Vivo samples its just an opinion. Unless of course we see signs of advanced technological infrastructure on a planet.

Even the Borg is an indication of a life form.



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 06:36 AM
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reply to post by elevenaugust
 


Your post occurred while I was writing the above reply so no offense. However the point made still stands, I'm now reading the NASA link you provided. Exciting research is about us.





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