We at Answers in Genesis are continuing the “Search for Terrestrial Intelligence”—looking for earth-based experts on extrasolar planets who aren’t rabidly speculating about the life that (they seem to think) is most certainly out there (see, for example, item #1 in News to Note two weeks back). Unfortunately, our search ends up fruitless for another week: scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are eagerly considering the prospect of life on an earth-like planet (named Vulcan in homage to Star Trek) orbiting a nearby star. A PhysOrg.com article explains:
When pondering the idea that [SIM, a new planet-finding mission] might be able to detect Vulcan, astronomer Dr. Angelle Tanner at Caltech had two questions: Can a planet form around [the star in question]? Can SIM detect such a planet?
Scientists ... are eagerly considering the prospect of life on an earth-like planet (named Vulcan in homage to Star Trek) orbiting a nearby star.
She consulted a planetary theorist, Dr. Sean Raymond of the University of Colorado, Boulder. “Since the three members of the triple star system are so far away from each other […], I see no reason why an Earth-mass planet would not be able to form around the primary star[.”]
The astronomers’ considerations suddenly jump from the planet itself to the possibility of life:
If Vulcan life were to exist on the planet, the orbit of the planet would have to lie in a sweet spot around the star where liquid water could be present on its surface. Water is an essential ingredient for any organism to live long and prosper.
This is quite an exciting prospect, since NASA’s Terrestrial Planet Finder mission, planned for launch after SIM […] could search for signatures of life such as methane and ozone.
The irrational exuberance continues:
When asked what life would be like on Vulcan, Tanner speculated that the inhabitants might be pale. “A K dwarf star emits its light at wavelengths which are a bit redder compared to those from the sun, so I wonder whether it's harder to get a tan there,” she said.
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