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Scientists are Zeroing in on Potentially Habitable Planets in the Milky Way – 3D Printing Could Ultimately Help Confirm Signs of Life

by • August 7, 2016 • No Comments


Artist’s rendering of the Kepler space telescope

People have been talking of assembling telescopes on the moon for well over a decade. Just imagine the possibilities – an unprecedented, up-close view of space that may reveal…who knows what? Look at all that has been found by NASA’s Kepler space telescope so far. Launched in 2009, Kepler’s undertaking is to survey a portion of the Milky Way so that scientists back on planet Earth can assess the number of planet Earth-dimensionsd planets orbiting other stars in the galaxy. So far, the undertaking – that has may already gone on twice as long as was first planned – has turned up 2,327 planets, with 4,706 additional possible planets.

The latest development of Kepler is that scientists have narrowed down the field of found spheres and made a sort of “Top 20 Planets Most Likely to Harbor Aliens” list. Out of the thousands of planets cataloged so far, 216 have been determined to be in the habitable zones around their home stars, meaning that they’re close adequate not to be frozen and far adequate not to be overheated. Out of those 216, 20 are rough, approaching planet Earth-dimensionsd planets, and they’re of to become subject to intense scrutiny.



So how do we find out if we quite do have neighbors? Well, it’s not going to take place overnight. It’ll be a step-by-step system over sat any timeal years, but 3D printing is most likely to enter the equation preceding long. The future step is the commence of the James Webb Space Telescope in October 2018. The infrared telescope can zero in on the atmospheres of the 20 planets and use spectroscopy to determine the possible presence of life-suggesting elements such as water or methane. So things get quite tricky.

The Kepler telescope’s major mirror is 1.5 meters, or 4.6 feet, in diameter. The James Webb telescope can significantly scale that up with a 6.5-meter major mirror, that can be created to fold up for the journey into space and expand to its full dimensions once in orbit. But it’s going to take a telescope much, much bigger than either of those to in fact get a great appear at any of these planets, and that is where the possibility of an observatory on the moon comes into play.

It is taken a lot of technological maneuvering to figure out how to feasibly get a telescope the dimensions of the James Webb into space, hence the folding mirror. For a telescope of the dimensions requireed to examine these planets up close, we’d somewhat much require to create it in space, and while current innovation is not there yet, 3D printing may allow it preceding too long. The European Space Agency has been discussing via 3D printing to create a base on the moon via in-situ materials such as moon dust, and the innovation may potentially in addition be utilized to create a huge telescope with mirrors of up to 50 meters in length. Installed on the moon, with no atmosphere to get in the way, such a giant telescope may have a clear view of these neighboring planets – clear adequate to, say, detect the presence of land weight and oceans.


Optical Engineer Larkin Carey examines two test mirror segments for the James Webb Space Telescope. [Image: NASA]

Of course, it’ll be not easy to truly ascertain what kind of life on other planets without in fact going there to appear, but 3D printing may be a assist there, too. NASA has been working on creating a 3D printed rocket engine for years, and they’ve approximately got it accomplished. It is part of a plan to get us back to the moon and, ultimately, Mars – so why not farther than that? Obviously, going that far out into the galaxy is a long way off, but 3D printing manufactures it simpler and less expensive to create the components requireed for super-spacecraft that may commence us additional than at any time preceding.

NASA is eyeing the additional development of 3D printing as a green innovation, too. Recently, the agency named 3D printing as one of five green technologies that may reduce aircraft fuel usage and eundertakings by up to 75% in the future decade. Not just can this manufacture standard air travel cheaper and additional sustainable, but it additional increases the possibility that we can some day travel far into space without breaking the bank – or our own planet. Do you ponder this can become a reality? Discuss over in the 3D Printed Moon Observatory at 3DPB.com.