Earth from Space Is a Special Place
The Deep Impact spacecraft, 31 million miles away, captured images of the moon circling the Earth, reported Space.com (for the sequence of images, click here). “Making a video of Earth from so far away helps the search for other life-bearing planets in the universe by giving insights into how a distant, Earth-like alien world would appear to us,” commented Michael A’Hearn (U of Maryland), principal investigator for the mission. Deep Impact made history by crashing a probe into a comet in 2005. It is now en route to another comet rendezvous in 2010, and searching for earth-like planets around other stars in the meantime.
In another story on Space.com, Clara Moskowitz reported that solar systems like ours may be rare. A study of stars in the Orion Nebula only found 10% with enough material orbiting to form Jupiter-size planets. The number of stars able to host planetary systems may be as low as 6%. Surveys like this are subject to statistical interpretation and new data, of course, but the consensus seems to be at this point that without a Jupiter-size planet in the system, it would be unlikely an earth-like planet could survive.
See also the 07/13/2008 entry for a list of conditions that make Earth appear unique. Nobody knows at this time whether other earth-like planets exist. NASA missions are continuing to refine methods to detect them. Till then, as far as we know, only our Earth has the conditions that allow silly people to act insanely happy (see Astronomy Picture of the Day).
Watch the two videos in order. They communicate to the heart. Where else in the universe could conditions exist for such behavior? What impassionate physical laws brought about the happy dance? Think – and then thank (Acts 14:17). The Creator has not left himself without witness, Paul said. Turn away from worthless things. The Creator has given us blessings that fill our hearts with joy in order that we would seek Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17).