“The universe is a very big place. If there is no life outside the earth so it is a terrible waste of space. ”It was thus, with extraordinary assertiveness, that the American astrophysicist Carl Sagan (1934-1996) rejected the idea that throughout the cosmos Earth would be the only planet with the privilege of harboring animals and plants.
But if there’s so much room for ETs, why haven’t we found them yet? The answer lies in Fermi’s famous Paradox, elaborated in 1950 by the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (1901-1954). The scientist performed a simple but revealing calculation.
Starting from the idea that Earth would be just one of countless worlds present in the universe, he elaborated an equation based on observations of the solar system.
Thus, it came to the conclusion that something like 1% of the planets that exist in the cosmos could harbor living beings. Assuming there are 70 stars in the universe, that would give, by estimates, 100 planets for every grain of sand that exists on Earth.
If that 1% has life, it is decided that there is a heavenly body with living beings for every grain of sand.
However, we never bump into them: this is the paradox. Well, such worlds are light years away. Which makes it impossible for us today to get there – not, however, to theorize as they are. This is what a software recently presented by NASA proved.
With amazing results. to theorize as they are. This is what a software recently presented by NASA proved. With amazing results. to theorize as they are. This is what a software recently presented by NASA proved. With amazing results.
The new computer program, named after Rocke 3D, was developed by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), NASA’s advanced research department.
It is guided by an algorithm that, fed with a series of variables about a given planet – such as the distance to the star of the orbiting system, the chemical composition of the atmosphere and the surface temperature – calculates the probability that life-filled oceans there.
Using the software, researchers at the University of Chicago, also linked to the US space agency, proposed to analyze, among other cases, the Trappist-1 star system.
Located at 39 light years – at lightning speed it would take 39 years to land on it – the Trappist-1 was discovered in 2017. It has seven planets. Last year, a NASA study assessed that at least three of them have a chance of harboring liquid water – they could generate life.
More than that: the trio, in theory, would have even more agitated oceans than those on Earth, which would facilitate the circulation of nutrients. Powered by the known characteristics of those distant celestial bodies, Rocke 3D has shown that one of them must have, or have had, even more marine-friendly conditions than Earth.
“There was a possibility of intense seas with a wide range of nutrients,” said Peruvian astronomer Jorge Melendez, who specializes in exoplanets and is a professor at USP.
Now, Chicago researchers aim to evaluate at least 300 other planets with the same criteria. No, we haven’t contacted extraterrestrials yet. But we may have found where they are.