Thursday, June 1, 2023
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New Earth-like ‘Pi Planet’ Discovered by Scientists at MIT, May Not be Habitable

Our planet the Earth is the only planet where humans and other species can co-exist. The presence of air in its atmosphere and water on its surface makes life possible on Earth. Over the millennia, human exploration and exploitation of its resources has taken giant stride’s and has made the world today as we know it.

Space has always fascinated mankind as we look to the sky and wonder about objects noticed in the night sky. Since the Soviets placed the first person Yuri Gagarin in space 50 years ago and the Americans landed on the moon in 1969, we have made huge advances in the field of space exploration by launching manned and unmanned probes, spacecrafts beyond Earths’ atmosphere to increasingly expand our knowledge of the universe around us.

Colonizing other bodies in the solar system has been the underlying vision for humans to find permanent settlements in space.

In one such discovery, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere have discovered our planet sized ‘Pi Planet’. The researchers discovered signals of the planet by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope’s K2 mission in 2017.

By zeroing in on the system earlier this year with SPECULOOS (The Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars) – a network of ground-based telescopes – the team confirmed that the signals were of a planet orbiting its star.

The new planet is named as K2-315b, as it is the 315th planetary system discovered using K2 data. While researchers are yet to determine its mass, scientists suspect the pi-planet is terrestrial like Earth but is likely not habitable, as its tight orbit around its star every 3.14 days at a blistering 81 kilometers per second. This is nearly about 181,000 miles per hour, bringing its surface temperature up to 450 kelvins or around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

‘This would be too hot to be habitable in the common understanding of the phrase,’ says Prajwal Niraula, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). He is also the lead author of a paper published today in the Astronomical Journal, titled: ‘π Earth: a 3.14-day Earth-sized Planet from K2’s Kitchen Served Warm by the SPECULOOS Team.’

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