As the first discovered habitable terrestrial exoplanet, Gilese 581d is not exactly a paradise, but for now it’s the next best thing to earth.
The rocky world was confirmed as the first planet outside our Solar System that meets all the requirements to sustain life, declares a new report from a handful of French research groups, including the Laboratoire de M ́et ́eorologie.
The report presents evidence that Gilese 581d (GJ581d) “will have a stable atmosphere and surface liquid water for a wide range of plausible cases, making it the first confirmed super-Earth (exoplanet of 2-10 Earth masses) in the habitable zone.”
Their statements are based on a few points. GJ581d is able to support liquid water, is believed to have locked tidal resonance, and has “extremely low insolation at the poles and possibly a permanent night side.”
First discovered in 2007, the planet’s dense atmosphere could create a greenhouse effect. This means that although the planet is mostly rocks for the time being, with a bit of time, humans could turn into into a livable environment
One problem in the mix, however, is its potential permanent night side, where volatile gasses are believed to freeze on the surface. The risk of collapse could “rule out a stable water cycle altogether for a super-Earth like GJ581d,” according to the report.
The paper proposes “observational tests” to see whether the possible deadly scenarios would pose an actual threat to colonists.
The real interesting point in all this, however, is that DARPA, the Department of Defense research group, just announced a project to study possibilities of inhabiting new worlds. The 100 Year Starship Study would study the necessities to “transform mankind into a space-faring species.”
According to the report on GJ581d, “Unlike the majority of the Kepler planetary candidates, Gliese 581d is relatively close to Earth …” This could make it a candidate as the first off-world colony.
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