Scientists have another potential planet for the inter-gallactic tourist. Gliese 581d has shown great promise as a planet that could support life. Found in the “Goldilocks zone” where the temperature allows water to remain in a liquid state, Gliese 581d has a profile that is “just right” for life.
The only problem with your Gliese 581d vacation is that it is 20 light years from Earth. While that would take 300,000 years to get to, it is still considered one of our closest livable planets.
The key to the planet’s compelling profile is its atmosphere of dense carbon dioxide.
The French report is a big boost for Gliese 581d, which has spent years in the shadow of Gliese 581g. Gliese 581g was identified as roughly Earth-like in size but now some scientists believe it may not actually exist.
Gliese 581d has a mass at least seven times that of Earth and is about twice our size. It also brings a new meaning to “location, location, location” in the selection of your Gliese 581d home. One side of the planet is in permanent darkness. On the other side, you are warmed by the red light from a dwarf star. The dim light means the planet receives just 30% of the intensity of sunlight on Earth. However, an atmospheric greenhouse effect significantly raises planetary temperatures and may allow water to remain in liquid form.
Of okay, dim red light mornings on a greenhouse planet may not be attractive to you but it is pretty exciting to scientists . . . and it is still better than Washington in the summer.