A couple more articles on the new exoplanet…

There seems to have been two press conferences going on when the discovery of the planet Gliese 581g was announced…

The first press conference was the announcement of a scientific study of the motions of the star Gliese 581 (also known as Gliese 581a). These motions, studied over eleven years, have suggested the existence of a planet 3.1-4.3 times the mass of the Earth orbitting the red dwarf in around 37 days, putting it within the ‘habitable’ zone of the star in terms of equilibrium temperature derived from the radiative balance of the system. This press conference included some ruminations on what would be needed to find the signals of life, such as spectroscopy of the atmosphere, which due to the alignment of the system, cannot happen with present techniques. This aspect of that press conference and the implications for the search for life outside the solar system are discussed here.

The second press conference focuses on what seems to be either over-excitement by discoverer Steve Vogt or over excitement by those reporting his thoughts and words when discussing the inevitability of life on the planet Zarmina. It is entirely common for authors of a study to contemplate the implications it could have and the possibilities it opens, and obviously where life in the cold recesses of space are concerned, the possibilities are particularly enticing, but in order to prevent more canals of Mars, Venusian cities and other such hostages to fortune, it helps to avoid statements such as life being 100% certain. But if you do want to get lost in the imagery, Vogt expands on it here.

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