assignment4 - Mitch McMichael ASTRO 2202 Professor Veverka...

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Mitch McMichael ASTRO 2202 Professor Veverka April 29, 2011 How Unique Are We Really? One of the main reasons I enrolled in Our Home in The Solar System was to see if this question was actually going to be answered. It is such a farfetched idea to begin with, and it is mind boggling when you actually sit down and to think about how big the universe truly is. To think that our solar system is only a fraction of what actually exists and considering our constraints to reach planets in our solar system alone, it is amazing as to the size and magnitude of what the universe holds. The solar system that we belong to holds two giant gas planets as we know in Jupiter and Saturn. This is a verifiable characteristic that we can match to other solar systems in the galaxy. From what we know of Earth and the 544 other planets we have discovered to date, there are two ways to look at this question. Earth is so unique, as it will be discussed further, that the likelihood of another planet holding the same qualities to sustain life is narrow and while on the opposite side of the spectrum, the universe is so massive in size that the chances of another planet that we have not yet discovered, is likely to hold the characteristics that would resemble those of Earth is possible. Planetary missions such as the Kepler mission have led astronomers to further assumptions about the habitability of other planets in the galaxy, and with their finding they have been able to see a silver lining in finding a planet that resembles Earth. But is this enough to assume there is another Earth somewhere in the galaxy?
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On January 6 th , 2010, a dotcom posted an article regarding the findings of Scott Gaudi of Microlensing Follow-Up Network (MicroFUN) who found a mathematical way to calculate how common our solar system might be to those found in the galaxy. In his thesis, Gaudi originally suggested that 45 percent of stars in the galaxy are holding planets that resemble that of our own ( http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/1805201/only_15_percent_of_solar_systems_are_l ike_ours/ .) A new calculation of 15 percent was found by using a method called gravitational microlensing that detects objects in space ranging from planets to stars regardless of the light they emit. Before this phenomenon was found, astronomers were only able to detect these planets or stars if they emitted massive amounts of light. The
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assignment4 - Mitch McMichael ASTRO 2202 Professor Veverka...

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