Where did we originate from? Are we alone in the universe?
These are questions most people have pondered at some point in their lifetime.
The New York Times recently published an article about the final tally of the Kepler mission and its discovery of earth-size planets. The article described how the search for planets is also the search for life.
The article reported that Kepler was launched into orbit on March 6, 2009, and was sent into space as an instrument for scientists at NASA to study 160,000 stars in the constellation named “Cygnus.” More than 300 exoplanets have been discovered from the Kepler mission.
Brian Tonks, a faculty member in the Physics department, said scientists have discovered many planets over the years.
“36,010 planets around stars have been discovered and confirmed to be planets,” Tonks said. “In 1995, breakthrough technology allowed us to measure the spectrum of the star. We could see if a planet was coming towards us or going away from us.”
The New York Times stated in the article about the data found in the Kepler mission that there is a possibility of billions of earth-size planets in the Milky Way with suitable conditions for liquid water.
Zion Austin, a freshman studying psychology, said he believes in life on other planets.
“Logically it makes sense,” Austin said. “If we can’t find an end to space and it’s truly infinite, then logically there has to be life.”
Tonks said that scientists have yet to find signs of life on other planets.
“Habitability is actually much more difficult than what we thought before,” Tonks said.
Tonks explained that habitable zones are different than habitable planets. In order for it to be possible for human life to exist on a planet, it must follow exact variables.
“Habitable zones mean areas where liquid water can exist,” Tonks said. “If a planet is in a habitable zone, it does not mean it is a habitable planet.”
Marcus Daley, a junior studying business management, said that God, through Jesus Christ, made worlds without end. He said that humankind should focus on its own planet first however.
“I do agree that there probably is life on other planets,” Daley said. “I really don’t think that we should worry about it because we have way too much to worry about here.”
Daley said that God created everything that has ever existed.
“It is kind of like snowflakes and DNA,” Daley said. “If God can make sure that those are different, he can also design planetary systems to be different as well.”
Tonks said that what fascinates him the most is the fact that all planetary systems are different. He said there is no set pattern in the universe.
“The variety of worlds is incredible,” Tonks said. “It’s humbling, it’s fascinating and it’s mind-blowing.”
Tonks said it is hard to make general conclusions about planetary formation. He said each individual planetary system is very different. Scientists have yet to find an earth twin with the same variables that make it possible for human kind to live on this planet.
“What surprises me is the variety of the architectures of planetary systems,” Tonks said. “It is humbling because it teaches us that we are just scratching the surface of the depths of what is going on.”
Tonks said that science has yet to discover new things about the universe.
“This is an area of very active research,” Tonks said. “We are still in the dawn of this type of work. As time goes on, we will learn more interesting and crazy things.”