An Extrasolar Planet Worth Visiting
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Sep. 11th, 2007 | 10:43 pm
posted by: beachofdreams in exobio
"GLIESE 581c has got to be the ultimate tourist destination. Discovered in April this year, it is the first rocky planet beyond our solar system with anything like a pleasant climate. How mind-blowing would it be just to stroll along its beaches - surely it must have beaches - or watch the planet's red-dwarf sun setting in a scarlet blaze over the alien landscape.
There's just one little problem to consider before you rush to book your ticket. Gliese 581c is 20 light years away - over a million times the distance from Earth to the sun. The journey there would make NASA's best efforts to explore our own solar system seem like a trip to the shops, and to get there in a human lifetime a craft would need to travel awfully fast. Even at half the speed of light you'd spend the best part of 50 years cooped up in a smelly space capsule. So what are the options?"