Science Sunday: "Good News for The Search for Life" from Universe Today
In The Ballad of Lumber Jackson, the world of Chronsylvania is full of strange phenomena, much like our own world. Every Sunday we'll highlight an article that explores the strange, and very real, scientific properties of our universe. We'll also leave you with a writing/drawing prompt based on the article to get your creative juices flowing.
This week's article is entitled "Good News for The Search for Life: The Trappist System Might Be Rich in Water." The article, which was written by Evan Gough (follow him on Twitter @EvanGough2) comes from Universe Today and can be found at the following link.
You can follow Universe Today on Twitter and Instagram @universetoday.
The article highlights the complex processes astronomers used to detect the density, and thereby the potential for water to exist, on the seven planets that orbit the star TRAPPIST-1 nearly 40 light years from Earth. By utilizing earth's most advanced telescope arrays, astronomers have determined that several of these planets' contain a volatile material, most likely either liquid or frozen water. As we all know, water is one of the foundational building blocks for the existence of life as we know it.
But don't get too excited: The study does not claim to have found evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial life. It simply reveals that there is the strong potential that water exists on these earth-sized exoplanets.
Still, this is a significant step, not only in humanity's search for life beyond earth, but in our exploration of the universe itself. In our long, human history of scientific discovery, we've spent thousands of years learning enough about our home planet to identify what properties allow life to exist here. And now, in 2018, we are in the very early stages of taking that knowledge and using it to search the universe for other planets like our own: ones that receive a similar amount of radiation from their host stars, ones that are surrounded by atmospheres of similar chemical composition, and ones that have the potential to hold and sustain water. We are using what we know about ourselves and our home to try to find something out there, whether that be a star system, a planet, or even a life form, that is like us.
This search may take decades, even centuries, to yield results similar to our favorite sci-fi first contact movies and comic books. It may not be until the year 2518 that we discover a truly habitable exoplanet or encounter a star system that houses life on any level. And even then, that habitable planet may be too many light years away to make travel feasible, or that life form may be a fossilized remnant of a single-celled organism on some long-darkened moon. But when we make that discovery, we will have uncovered something of ourselves in the wide vastness of space. We will have worked the miracle of finding something essentially familiar in a wildly unfamiliar place.
And you want to know the most exciting part?
The search is already well underway.
Creative Prompt: Draw or write about a time when you (or a fictional character) discovered something familiar in an unfamiliar place. Consider the following items:
1. What specific aspects of the setting made it so unfamiliar?
2. How did you (or your fictional character) react to this unfamiliar setting? Were you scared? Excited? Confused?
3. What specific familiar thing did you discover? Was it an object? An emotion? A memory?
4. How did you react to finding this familiar thing in such a strange place? Was it comforting? Nerve-wracking? Horrifying?
Share your writing and art with us on Twitter and Instagram @lumberjacksonco or you can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to broadcast your writing and art to the world via our website and social media channels. If you want us to publish your work, simply include a brief message that reads, “Okay to publish.”
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Thanks for reading, and we'll see you on Wednesday with a brand new page.