Maybe There are Aliens Next Door

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page Ict Trade -

The rev­e­la­tion that there’s a new kid on our ce­les­tial block that may sup­port alien life is wel­come, though what­ever or­gan­isms that may be liv­ing in the Trap­pist-1 sys­tem have ev­ery right to call us that too. More than any ego bat­tle about who has first rights to the uni­verse, how­ever, the very fact that we may soon have an an­swer to the earth­lings’ ex­is­ten­tial ques­tion “Are we alone?” should be cause for joy. Af­ter all, though it has been known for the last half-decade that10-20% of the stars around us have Earth-size plan­ets with at­mos­pheres that can pos­si­bly sup­port life, only now we know one such sys­tem with the right tem­per­a­ture band is prac­ti­cally round the corner in space terms: just 39 light years away. That seems un­com­fort­ably close given that our ’hood — the Milky Way — stretches some 100,000 light years, but such num­bers are de­cep­tive. Even 39 light years means the Trap­pist-1 plan­ets are 369 bil­lion km away and, there­fore, quite out of reach of our cur­rent con­ven­tional space travel ve­hi­cles and be­yond the av­er­age hu­man life­span. Of course, the pres­ence of such a ‘near’ neigh­bour with pos­si­bly in­hab­ited — and hab­it­able — en­vi­ron­ments may be just the in­spi­ra­tion Earth’s sci­en­tists need to take that tech­no­log­i­cal leap of faith to make Star Trek-type in­ter­ga­lac­tic travel turn from science fic­tion to fact.

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