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Posts Tagged ‘exoplanets’

exoplanet and ET discovery-650

On Thursday, NASA announced the discovery an exoplanet that is similar to Earth in terms of size, solar orbit, and the size of its sun. This has sparked news reports that exoplanet Kepler 452 may host extraterrestrial life. The Guardian released a story titled “Is Kepler 452b humanity’s best chance to find alien life?” while RT News ran the story, “We are not alone? NASA’s Kepler telescope finds first planet similar to Earth.” Dr Seth Shosta from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program believes the discovery of Kepler 452 will help scientists figure out “what fraction of stars have a world that could support life”.

While there have been other earth sized exoplanets discovered in the habitable region of their suns, they orbited much smaller suns. The sun of Kepler 452 is however similar to the Earth’s in terms of diameter.  Its age of six billion years means that it is more likely that life could have evolved over extended periods of geological time. Kepler 452 is estimated to be 60% bigger than Earth, has a similar orbital distance from, and orbit (385 days) around, its sun. It is also thought to be a rocky planet that could host large oceans where life could evolve.

The discovery of Kepler 452 follows soon after it was announced on July 20 that Stephen Hawking was backing a new SETI related initiative to find extraterrestrial life. The project will be backed by a Russian billionaire who is donating $100 million.

Fortune is smiling on SETI related programs with renewed private funding and a new set of exoplanet targets for finding signs of extraterrestrial life. It now appears inevitable that either SETI will detect radio signals from a distant alien civilization or that astronomers will develop techniques for identifying bio-signatures in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. Either way will lead to a major scientific announcement about the discovery of extraterrestrial life, and a new era as humanity adjusts to the reality that we are not alone. There is however a big problem with this unfolding scenario. It’s a lie.

Extraterrestrial life was discovered more than seven decades ago and for national security reasons has been kept from the public arena. The advanced technologies used by alien visitors in their flying saucer craft and larger cigar-shaped motherships, was well documented at the dawn of the UFO era. For example, George Adamski in the early 1950’s released photographs of large cigar shaped motherships with scout craft leaving that have never been debunked.

Adamski Motherships

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A senior Canadian government scientist Wilbert Smith made discreet inquiries in the late 1940s and found that the flying saucer issue had a non-earthly origin and was more highly classified than the H-Bomb. Many hundreds of whistleblowers began emerging in the late 1990s to reveal their involvement with covert programs that involved working with or suppressing information about extraterrestrial life and technology.

Even more recently, there have been major disclosures about secret space programs that are aware of and working with different extraterrestrial civilizations. These whistleblower disclosures are accelerating and have the potential to lead to a massive breakdown in the secrecy system that has been built up over decades. Modern information technologies make it possible for organizations such as Wikileaks to be given large numbers of documents that are released in ways that expose national security secrets. Indeed, some whistleblowers claim that massive document dumps are being prepared at this very moment concerning secret space programs, and national security and corporate elites are aware of this.

It is inevitable that the world public will learn that extraterrestrial life is real. This will happen either through enhanced detection techniques for scanning exoplanet bio-signatures or radio signals, or a massive breakdown in the secrecy system built up over decades.

National security and corporate elites responsible for covering up the existence of extraterrestrial life face a major dilemma. They can sit back and allow scientists to move forward in a gradual process that eventually discovers distant alien life. Such a discovery will raise inevitable questions as to whether conspiracy theorists were right all along about a cover-up thereby creating heightened interest in what witnesses, whistleblowers, leaked documents, etc. have been saying about alien life. This will make the scenario of a massive breakdown in the secrecy system more likely – either soon after or even prior to an extraterrestrial discovery announcement – which is what many elites fear most.

This leads to a third scenario that some national security and corporate elite may attempt in order to maintain much of the infrastructure of a decades-long secrecy system. An announcement that alien life has been discovered on a distant exoplanet will be given saturation media coverage that sparks massive public and private funding for space exploration. Such a discovery will be given sufficient media spin to make it appear that humanity is embarking on a bold new adventure that deserves massive public support, rather than suspicion due to crazy conspiracy theories focused on past events.

The discovery of exoplanet Kepler 452 is a positive scientific development as many in the general public seek an answer to the question: “are we alone?” Any future announcement that extraterrestrial life has been discovered on a distant exoplanet needs to be considered not solely as the start of a bold new age in space exploration, but also as an opportunity for disclosure of the truth about past and even present-day events covering up that we are not alone in this vast universe.

© Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. Copyright Notice

Credit: NASA/JPL

Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA astronomers yesterday released a paper announcing the discovery of an additional 768 exoplanets using a new validation technique for data from the Kepler Space Telescope. This has nearly doubled the number of confirmed exoplanets from the previous tally of 941 to 1710. Most dramatically, the number of earth sized exoplanets increased by a factor of five, now making it clear that rocky earths are pretty common throughout the galaxy. Importantly, four of the exoplanets were confirmed to rotate in the habitable zones of their suns – zones where liquid water can exist and extraterrestrial life can flourish. The rapid increase in exoplanet discoveries has come from analysis of only two years of data supplied by the Kepler Mission. Analysis of an additional two years of available data is expected to increase the number of confirmed exoplanets even more dramatically than the latest NASA release. The new confirmation method used by NASA astronomers means that the likelihood of eventually finding exoplanets with extraterrestrial life becomes far greater than previously thought.

NASA astronomers adopted a two-step process for detecting exoplanets using data gained by the Kepler Space Telescope and 11 other currently operating space telescopes. A new generation of space telescopes along with Earth based telescopes promise to provide even more data about exoplanets and their atmospheres. The world’s largest optical telescope is scheduled to begin construction this year on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano at the Big Island of Hawaii – an hour’s drive from where this article is being written. The new 30 meter telescope is designed to examine exoplanets and their atmospheres for tell tale signs of life. The detection of large amounts of oxygen, for example, would be confirmation for the existence of extraterrestrial life.

When an exoplanet is first detected as it either passes in front of (the transit method) or near enough to its sun to cause detectable wobble (the Doppler effect), it becomes a “candidate” until further data confirms its existence. Currently, there are more than 2500 exoplanet candidates. The length of time need to confirm exoplanets depends on the period of an exoplanet’s rotation around its parent star. As the exoplanet makes its second or subsequent passage in front of or near its sun, astronomers gain the additional data to learn whether or not a candidate exoplanet has been confirmed. So far, only two years of a four year data pool from the Kepler Space Telescope has been analyzed. As more data becomes available, additional exoplanet candidates are likely to be confirmed.

Out of the 768 exoplanets just confirmed, 106 are less than 1.25 times Earth’s diameter. Previously, the data from Kepler and other telescopes had only confirmed 20 earth sized worlds. The four newly confirmed exoplanets orbiting in the habitable zones of their suns were roughly twice the diameter of Earth. This almost doubled the total of exoplanets confirmed in habitable zones from five to nine. What the NASA astronomers didn’t consider, however, was a new way of defining what constitutes a habitable zone for extraterrestrial life.

In January this year, Scientists at the University of Aberdeen and University of St Andrews, Scotland, released a paper titled “Circumstellar habitable zones for deep terrestrial biospheres,” in the journal, Planetary and Space Science. In the paper they redefined the “Goldilocks Zone”, the optimal zone for life to exist on planets. They have found that life can flourish beneath a planet’s surface where liquid water can be found at varying depths. This is how the abstract described this new way of locating extraterrestrial life:

We introduce a new term, subsurface-habitability zone (SSHZ) to denote the range of distances from a star within which rocky planets are habitable at any depth below their surfaces up to a stipulated maximum, and show how SSHZs can be estimated from a model relating temperature, depth and orbital distance. We present results for Earth-like, Mars-like and selected extrasolar terrestrial planets, and conclude that SSHZs are several times wider and include many more planets than conventional surface-based habitable zones.

Using computer simulations, the scientists found that if one goes to a depth of 5km below the surface, then the habitable zone in space increases by a factor of three. If one goes to 10km below the surface, then the habitable zone extends by a factor of 14 which would extend the habitable zone beyond Saturn. Thus several of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, could have life thriving in habitats kilometers beneath their surfaces.

Using the idea of subsurface-habitability zone, many more than only four of the 768 newly confirmed exoplanets could be suitable hosts for extraterrestrial life. As astronomers continue to develop new techniques for confirming the existence of exoplanets, a new understanding for what constitutes a habitable zone is needed. Liquid water can exist either on or beneath the surface of an exoplanet, thereby making it possible for extraterrestrial life to flourish on many more exoplanets than previously thought possible.

In previous announcements of the Kepler Mission data, astronomers confidently predicted that it was only a matter of time before an exoplanet in the habitable zone of its sun would be found to host extraterrestrial life. New techniques for confirming exoplanets and new ways of defining a habitability zone make it even more inevitable that extraterrestrial life will eventually be detected on exoplanets using advanced space telescopes.

© Copyright 2013. Michael E. Salla, Ph.D.

This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists. Permission is granted to include an extract (e.g., introductory paragraph) of this article on website or email lists with a link to the original.

 

Subsurface habitability zones in proportion to distance from sun and depth from surface. Credit: Sean McMahon

Subsurface habitability zones in proportion to distance from sun and depth from surface. Credit: Sean McMahon

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen and University of St Andrews, Scotland, have concluded that extraterrestrial life is far more prevalent than previously thought. In a paper titled “Circumstellar habitable zones for deep terrestrial biospheres,” released in the journal, Planetary and Space Science, they have redefined the “Goldilocks Zone”, the optimal zone for life to exist on planets. They have found that life can flourish beneath a planet’s surface where liquid water can be found at varying depths.

Planets in our solar system where the surface is too frigid for liquid water to exist, may be teeming with life below the surface where liquid water can exist in abundance. Planets such as Mars and moons such as Europa and Ganymede may be teeming with life under their respective frigid surfaces. The scientists’ findings is likely to revolutionize the way in which extraterrestrial life is thought to exist, and where it may be found. Perhaps more significantly, their paper gives support to claims that extraterrestrial life can exist inside worlds with extreme surface conditions such as rogue planets in interstellar space, and extremely hot planets such as Venus.

The Goldilocks zone is currently defined as a region in space where liquid water can exist on the surface on a planet without boiling or freezing. For our solar system, this is roughly the region in space from Venus to Mars. However, as one goes beneath the surface, the temperature increases due to the internal heat generated by the hot cores of a planet or moon. This means that while water may instantly freeze on the surface, thereby making life difficult to establish itself there, liquid water may existence in abundance below the surface.

This is how one of the scientists involved in the “Circumstellar habitable zones” paper, Ph.D. student Sean McMahon, described in the abstract this new way of locating extraterrestrial life:

We introduce a new term, subsurface-habitability zone (SSHZ) to denote the range of distances from a star within which rocky planets are habitable at any depth below their surfaces up to a stipulated maximum, and show how SSHZs can be estimated from a model relating temperature, depth and orbital distance. We present results for Earth-like, Mars-like and selected extrasolar terrestrial planets, and conclude that SSHZs are several times wider and include many more planets than conventional surface-based habitable zones.

Using computer simulations, the scientists found that if one goes to a depth of 5km below the surface, then the habitable zone in space increases by a factor of three. If one goes to 10km below the surface, then the habitable zone extends by a factor of 14 which would extend the habitable zone beyond Saturn. Thus several of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, could have life thriving in habitats kilometers beneath their surfaces.

In response to questions from the International Business Times, McMahon also opened up the possibility that rogue planets that drift in interstellar space may even harbor life:

Rocky planets a few times larger than the Earth could support liquid water at about five km below the surface even in interstellar space (i.e. very far away from a star), even if they have no atmosphere because the larger the planet, the more heat they generate internally.”

The scientists findings give surprising support for the radical theory proposed by Zecharia Sitchin that a rogue planet called Nibiru spends most of its 3600 year orbit in interstellar space. According to Sitchin, the Sumerians believed that Nibiru was the home world of a race of beings called the Anunnaki. The University of Aberdeen scientists paper makes it possible that the Anunnaki, if the Sitchin’s interpretation of the Sumerians is correct, established themselves in underground colonies to survive the long periods in interstellar space.

Furthermore, McMahon pointed out that subsurface conditions protect life from extreme conditions on the surface, and this may be the norm on most habitable planets:

The surfaces of rocky planets and moons that we know of are nothing like Earth. They’re typically cold and barren with no atmosphere or a very thin or even corrosive atmosphere. Going below the surface protects you from a whole host of unpleasant conditions on the surface. So the subsurface habitable zone may turn out to be very important. Earth might even be unusual in having life on the surface.

The scientists’ findings makes it possible that worlds such as Venus, with very hot surface conditions may have a “subsurface-habitability zone” that support life. This gives support to the claims of several extraterrestrial “contactees” that the planet Venus hosts life in underground civilizations. For example, Luis Fernando Mostajo claims to have been taken to an underground civilization on Venus via a stargate device he calls a “Xendra”.

The Goldilocks zone in space is being radically redefined as scientists find more ways in which liquid water can exist in abundant supply on different planets or their moons. The new idea of “subsurface-habitability zones” will dramatically increase the number of exoplanets and exomoons deemed suitable candidates for extraterrestrial life. It is also likely that in the future, we will find that our own solar system harbors life hidden in subterranean regions of different planets and moons.

© Copyright 2014. Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. Exopolitics.org

This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists. Permission is granted to include an extract (e.g., introductory paragraph) of this article on website or email lists with a link to the original.

Edinburgh University is set to launch a series of six free online courses in Autumn 2012, one of which is titled: “Introduction to Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life”. The course involves five lectures to be presented online and will result in a certificate to all that complete it. Edinburgh is teaming up with Princeton and Stanford universities in an effort to make available undergraduate courses to a global audience for free as part of the Coursera consortium.  According to Edinburgh University spokesperson, Ranald Leask: “Something like extraterrestrial life comes out of a wide and deep base of knowledge and academic endeavour.” Leask is referring to the progress made by the scientific community in confirming the existence of distant exoplanets and that some of these have the right conditions for hosting life as we know it. Princeton was the first U.S. university to offer a degree in astrobiology. Now thanks to Edinburgh University, astrobiology courses that focus on questions concerning the existence of extraterrestrial life are going global.

Edinburgh’s “Search for Extraterrestrial Life” course will be taught by Professor Charles Cockell who has authored two books on Mars, worked for NASA, and is the current Director for the UK Center for Astrobiology. Cockell’s course will examine questions such as “Is there life on other planetary bodies?” and “How is it distributed throughout the Universe?”

According to Rory Reynolds from the Scotsman:

The first two weeks of the course explore the origins of life and how beings survive in extreme environments, with the focus in the third week moving to the possibility of life being discovered on other planets. The final week includes asking how contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence would be dealt with and what would be the impact on society. It concludes with the question “who would represent Earth?” in the event of first contact.

The course is a direct result in the ongoing discovery of exoplanets, some of which have been confirmed to exist in the habitable region of their suns. This has sparked a number of academic conferences focusing on the social and political impact of the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Two were hosted by the Royal Society of London in 2010, and led to much media interest over scientific speculations over the likely motivations of extraterrestrial life. The most notable has been Prof Stephen Hawkings’ view about space faring extraterrestrials being more likely predatory in nature than friendly.

Recent advances in space telescopes have now made it possible to detect alien metropolises on distant worlds. On May 8, 2012, NASA announced: “NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has detected light emanating from a “super-Earth” beyond our solar system for the first time. While the planet is not habitable, the detection is a historic step toward the eventual search for signs of life on other planets.”  According to Dario Borghino from  Gizmag: “This marks the first time that light has been detected from a planet of such a small size, and the find is telling astrophysicists where to look in their search for signs of life on planets beyond our own.”

The question to be examined in the final week of the Edinburgh Unniversity course, “who would represent Earth” in the case of contact is very significant. It first came to public prominence in 2010 in relation to Dr Mazlan Othman from the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs who was a presenter at the Royal Society astrobiology conference in October 2010. There was much media speculation over a story in the Sunday Times mistakenly claiming that Dr Othman would represent Earth on behalf of all humanity. In an earlier talk, Othman did say however:

The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day human kind will receive signals from extraterrestrials. When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.

Edinburgh University’s upcoming “Introduction to Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life” course will open up an exciting new era in the study of extraterrestrial life. Core questions regarding the existence and societal implications of extraterrestrial life are being raised by respected scientists, and will now be discussed by students around the world. According to Jeff Haywood, vice principal of the University of Edinburgh, the number of students for the online course is potentially 100,000 students or more. That projected enrollment figure is in itself a remarkable possibility. Whether 100,000 students enroll or not, it is clear that the scholarly study of extraterrestrial life and its societal implications has entered mainstream scientific discourse and is now going global.

[Special Notice: The author teaches a course in the Exopolitics Institute’s Certification Program titled: The Science, Spirituality and Politics of Extraterrestrial Life. Fall Semester classes begin in early September. More info here.

© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

Permission is granted to include extracts of this article on websites and email lists with a link to the original. This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists without author’s permission.

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