Mankind is boldly going where...

Astronomers say the planet Kepler 452b may be the closest match to the earth.

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Published: Sat 25 Jul 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 25 Jul 2015, 11:01 AM

Nasa's discovery of an earth-like planet orbiting a cousin of the Sun after six years opens new possibilities in space exploration and the hunt for new planets. Mega space expeditions like this could help our home planet sustain itself when its resources are exhausted by consumption and wastage.
Astronomers say this planet may be the closest match to the earth. Its surface appears to be rocky and it is circling its star at the same distance as the earth orbits the Sun, according to Nasa, which has named the planet Kepler 452b.
Scientists believe the planet is neither too hot or too cold and it could support water in liquid form. The planet is undergoing climatic changes which the earth could experience in future due to global warming and pollution. The new planet is 1,400 light-years away, and further studies of its surface and weather changes may take a while, but early studies and data received could help us survive storms and droughts here on earth. This project in search of another earth outside our solar system cost $600 million, but researchers say it has been worth the effort because our future is at stake and mankind must find ways to sustain the universe.
Space exploration in the sixties was about competition between the United States and the erstwhile USSR. Countries clashed in space then, placing destructive weapons against civilisation.
Modern odysseys, however, have a larger, universal appeal and are all about cooperative survival. It involves the hunt for resources that earth needs for its life forms to survive. Water is the most precious resource and the rate at which it is depleting from the soil, large tracts of the earth will be parched in 50 years.
But we are still light years away from surviving in another world, far from conquering its environment and inhabitants - if they exist. It must provide the minimum conditions for human life during our quest for new discoveries.
The good news is that space exploration and new discoveries have seen a spurt in recent years. Last week, Stephen Hawking, the great physicist lent his support to a $100 million eavesdropping project on aliens. Called Breakthrough Listen, advanced telescopes will listen to sounds in the Milky Way which betray the presence of other life forms and make contact with creatures from other worlds. How do they survive in the areas of space where humans find it hard to breathe? How advanced are their 'alien' processes? What can we learn from them? We are venturing into a new realms - nothing ventured nothing gained.
A few weeks ago, a space vehicle made a flyby of Pluto and changed our perceptions about the dwarf planet. Data beamed back to earth revealed that the cold planet had a warm heart.
Who knows, millions of years from now, our curiosity for space could help our race survive with help from friendly planets and extra terrestrials. As continents and nations drift apart, humans could witness galactic shifts - which will keep them alive.

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