A couple of days ago I found myself browsing the Android Market in search for some cool nerdy app to keep myself amused for a short while. Then I found a little gem called “Google Sky Map”
Once installed, I spent a fair bit of time looking like a loon, pointing my mobile in all sorts of different directions in hope of spotting both planets and stars alike. This got me thinking about mankind’s space travels (and the lack of space travels) and our achievements and discoveries.
And then, only the next day astrologists announced that they had discovered Earth’s sister planet, Gliese 581c (catchy huh?) that is sitting quietly at a mere 20.1 light years away – that’s almost a 5 Billion year journey. Which is a bucket load of boiled sweets and toilet breaks! In all seriousness, let’s put the distance into perspective, our Moon is approximately 0.0000000406 light years away and Mars is a minimum of 0.00000062363 light years away.
Not only is this newly discovered planet 14 times closer to its parent star, it is almost double the size of our home world, resulting in a much stronger gravitational pull. Easily turning 63kg into 102kg.There are plans to send powerful telescopes in search of extra terrestrial life by 2020. Now, I’m an optimist when it comes to astrology and new discoveries, but I wouldn’t count on any major discoveries in our lifetime. However, bookmakers William Hill have slashed the odds regarding the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life from 1000/1 to 100/1 since this discovery.