, Research Paper
Are we alone in this universe? Does life exist in other planets? These are the kind of questions that are yet to be answered. Within the last 100 years scientists have shown remarkable advancement in space science. Millions of dollars are gone and a lot of time has been spent to answer the above questions. Space telescopes have brought us pictures of unknown planets that might have some indication of life like that of the Earth. But we are unfortunate to say that out of the nine neighbor planets, life exists only on Earth.
What is magical about Earth that makes life possible here? There’s lot of scientific details that concludes the reason of life here. The rate of Oxygen compared to other gases in our atmosphere, the distance between sun and the earth, water, pressure, gravity, etc, everything seems to be in such a balance so as to bring and bear life here. The scientists of today are actually in search of such planets that matches certain criterion with the earth so as to ensure the possibility of life. So far telescopes haven’t been successful in bringing clear and accurate pictures of distant planets. Here, distant planets refer to planets of different solar system. Hence Astronomers have to bring about a different technique to solve this problem. One such technique that is developed recently is called spectroscopy. Light coming out of a planet could tell researchers about the nature of the planet. Different characteristics of the planet could be studied and different conclusions can be drawn as to the questions of life and existence. One of the basic things that could be studied is the temperature of the planet. If a planet is very close to a hotter and brighter star, then temperature would obviously be high enough to make life unbearable there. Moreover, gases that stands on the planets atmosphere could also be studied through the technique of spectroscopy. Our mother earth initially had Algae as the only life form. Algae would take in carbon and release oxygen as waste product. That is how the earth is now mostly under the influence of oxygen which in turn made life possible. If there exists such a planet where oxygen is in abundance, then life have a good chance of surviving there.
The whole method of spectroscopy is very complicated and is chiefly based on hypothesis. Until we bring clear and accurate pictures of those distant planets, we can never be fully sure of the possibilities. Telescopes that would be built for such purpose should be enormous in size that could cost over few billion dollars. Hence, scientists like Ronald Bracewell of Stanford University developed a trick which could bring accurate results from a distant planet without much expense. We know that blurred images come through a single telescope. But if two telescopes kept 20 meters apart from each other and are pointed to a distant star are used, then clear image is possible. Bracewell did the experiment with success. Through one telescope he would invert the light waves, changing peaks into troughs and vice versa. Then, by combining the inverted light with light from the second telescope, the image would overlap each other thereby bringing a more accurate image of a distant world. This sort of device is termed as interferometer. There are certain obvious obligations associated with using this device. It can obscure a star only if the star is perpendicular to the line joining the centers of each telescope. That way both the telescopes receive the same pattern of light waves from the star. One other problem arose when projecting for a planet smaller than the size of Jupiter that orbits closer to a sun. None of the two telescopes are able to cancel out the starlight. To avoid such restrictions, scientists are looking for a newer and more creative way to meet the possibility. One such approach was that of arranging four mirrors in a diamond pattern which would allow better cancellation of the starlight provided that the two telescopes are placed eight meters apart from each other. Further, another approach suggested four telescopes be focused on one single star with one meter distance from one another. One such approach that had been given the most importance was that of a interferometer with two pairs of mirrors all arranged in straight line. Each of the two pairs will darken the starlight thereby concentrating more on the planets that are held close to the star. To make it more effective, the distance between the telescopes are suggested to be around 50 to 75 meters in length. There are obvious advantages to this arrangement. The telescopes would give very accurate and unique signals from planets of different and distant solar systems. The cost is massive indeed. It would cost around $2 billion to bring it to reality and NASA is looking forward to make it a success.
The article links to our class considerably. We are after all studying about the different possibilities of life on other planets and the article updates us of the actions NASA is taking to bring it to a reality. We have been taught in the class about the location of the earth, about the different gases that inherits the earth and various other critical symptoms that make life possible here. There are billions of stars with planets orbiting the respective sun in our universe. There should be a planet elsewhere that resembles the earth and there exists intelligent life form as here. We have created the Arecibo Radio Telescope that reaches over a distance of 100,000 light year. If there are any intelligent life form out there within the range of Arecibo Radio Telescope we would definitely be able to figure that out some time in future.
Our technology has developed quite a bit. But we need more time and technological advancement to answer questions of life on other planets.