Is There Life on Gliese 581d?

Image courtesy of NASAblueshift

Forget men on mars; exoplanet Gliese 581d in the solar system neighboring ours may have conditions just right for supporting some forms of life. While the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, French researchers made a pretty fascinating discovery about the planet. For a few years scientists have thought the planets orbiting the star Gliese 581 could support life, but until recently it was believed Gliese 581d was too cold. However, when the researchers simulated the atmospheric make-up of the planet, they found it rich in carbon dioxide, creating a warm enough climate to possibly support oceans and rainfall.

Though don’t get too excited (we’re looking at you, Lance Bass). The incredibly dense air on Gliese 581d makes for a red, murky atmosphere toxic to humans. It would also take roughly 300,000 years to reach the planet on a spacecraft. Visiting it may be out of the question for now, but it’s exciting and just a little scary to think about the vast and varying environments where life can exist.

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