Somewhere deep in space, 9,000 light years away from our beloved source of light and the ball of flaming gas we call the sun, the good folks at NASA have found a planet with a very similar chemical composition to our own, so much so that it is being touted by the media as “Super Earth”.
The celestial body in question, with roughly the same mass as Neptune, was discovered by scientists working on a new project they call OGLE, short for Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment.
It works by measuring the light coming in from distant stars and looking for changes. When a massive object, such as a star, passes in front of another object, the passing object’s gravity bends the light from the background star and magnifies it like a lens so that it appears brighter. This newest discovery, brought about by the revolutionary technique, is forcing scientists to revise their calculations on how many possible Earth-like planets there may be in the universe.
“It appears to be a terrestrial planet of rock and ice. The implication is that these icy super-Earths are pretty common.” said Andrew Gould, professor of astronomy at Ohio State University.
This is only the latest announcement in a string of space related news. The human race is slowly, step by step, conquering the final frontier. We have found traces of life on an icy moon, begun the process of mapping Mars, and now discovered a planet that has challenged the thinking of scientists everywhere. The big question is whether or not (or when) we will find life somewhere out in the unknown blackness of space.
One day that question will be definitively answered and the course of the human race will be changed indefinitely. Until then, enjoy the buildup.