back to article Alien SUPER-EARTH: If there is LIFE up there, it'll be moaning about the weather

Two of the most common type of planets found in the Milky Way galaxy are cloudy, damp super-worlds, according to data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Artist's impression of a cloudy exoplanet Boffins have been trying for some time to figure discern what sort of atmospheres surround two planets: GJ 436b, which is 36 light …


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  1. frank ly

    Understatement and Understanding

    " ... in this case we are discovering we may not know them as well as we thought ....."

    I'm amazed that we can know anything about them and I look forward to us knowing more.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Understatement and Understanding

      Right? Not too awfully long ago there were unknown planets in our own solar system, now we're attempting to understand the atmospheres of planets that are mind numbingly far away. It really is fantastic.

      It's a real shame space exploration gets the shit kicked out of it so often so that we can offset tax cuts and warmongering. Space, specifically deep space, is currently the only thing that all countries can cooperate over. There's no political, military or financial advantage to currently be had and if we could all get together on this one thing then maybe, just maybe, the fallout and repercussions here on Earth won't be so bad when those advantages do present themselves.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Understatement and Understanding

      An AI Program already Running Progress to XSSXXXX in CHAOS Control Centres, frank ly.

      LOVE is the Answer in Live Operational Virtual Environments. BeWare and Be Aware there are Distinct Red Hot Natured Zones with Temptingly Great Goods to Consider as Ware for Sale and/or Hire and Live Beta Testing with Novel Quantum Insert Control Assets, HeadQuartered and Distributing Real Live Future Product Promotions from Heavenly Deep Dark Desires Exercised and Rabidly Received and Valued Priceless.

      Fortunately does Mother Nature Provide Source Lust in the Perfect Phorm of Woman. Although how nice to know there be an alternate school of thought which accepts there be an infinite number of such treasure in all varieties to satisfy the guarantee to satisfy all passions.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Understatement and Understanding

        "Although how nice to know there be an alternate school of thought which accepts there be an infinite number of such treasure in all varieties to..."

        It's not a foregone conclusion though, it never is

      2. Martin Budden
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Understatement and Understanding

        amanfromMars1 finally reveals his true intentions towards us. Better stock up on lube!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So we british still have a leg up when it comes to empathising with alien species....

    UK: "Darn, the weather is a bit off today isnt it? Fancy some tea?"

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeey!

      Careful now, you have no idea what "tea" means to the aliens. You could end up as the interstellar Neville Chamberlain, or pathologically still scrubbing yourself raw, when you've already been in the shower for two hours.

      (I'm stunned that we can tell so much about the atmosphere of planets 40-50 light years away. Way to go, space scientists!)

    2. stucs201

      Re: Yeey!

      There's no tea in space. The closest you can usually get is "a cupful of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea".

      1. Anonymous Coward


        In space, nobody can ask for cream?

        (And I'm gone, before others put a facehugger in my mailbox)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    figure discern

    To "figure discern"? Nice - a bit Demolition Man-ish. I might use that myself :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: figure discern

      It certainly inspires joy-joy feelings in me citizen. Be well!

  4. Crisp

    There has got to be a way to get a probe out there (eventually)

    I know it would take a while, but I'd love to take a gander at these worlds up close!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Given the dusty colour of the graphic, anyone else read "436B" and "LV-426"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      From orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

  6. Zmodem

    using the prototype of their electro magnetic pulse propulsion and send a probe to them, 40 or so years they have waited before

    1. Zmodem

      a few of these locked together that drop off every 24 light years and used to deep space nodes, and the probe up front and your all good

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Zmodem

        just super high powered wifi and boosters like ground fibre networks have, except 100gmgbhz and omni directional

  7. hplasm


    You do know you sound like the meaningless half of a loud guy's phone call we can all hear, no?

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: @zmodem

      zmodem is insane and knows less physics than a dead gerbil called Roger

      1. Zmodem

        Re: @zmodem

        your just a bunch of true comment tards,. the next gen space shuttle and electro magnetic pulse propulsion and perpetual generators are in

        wifi using 2.4ghz band of the radio spectrum, radars and xray machines and telescopes, and cellphones use the radio spectrum..

        no real technology uses 3 terrahertz band, in space you use as high as you can so packets go futher, faster and can carry more data

        leave omni directional nodes every few light years, you can just send out controls through the network array and it will always reach it destination, unless a node fails

        packets have CRC and timestamps and so on

        you would need a wifi node half way to mars if you want to watch the tv show, and not be a remote stream

        1. Zmodem

          Re: @zmodem

          i will be blipping about with hyperdrive with booming out my onboard PA system, while you still doing somersaults on a flying saucer

        2. DJO Silver badge

          Re: @zmodem

          "in space you use as high as you can so packets go futher(sic), faster"

          Quite mad, it's as if the speed of light was just a number and space wasn't so stuffed with noise on the complete spectrum that doing radio even over Terra/Luna distances is far from trivial. Just 93 million miles away is a quite large unshielded fusion reactor which pumps out all sorts of junk, luckily we have a magnetosphere to deflect most of it, not so in open space.

          1. Zmodem

            Re: @zmodem

            radio spectrum,

            wifi uses radio spectrum, omni direction is like a star blasting out solar radiation in all directions and can receive from all directions



            wifi uses 2.4ghz becauses its a worldwar 2 band, and what the governments will allow the public to uses

            xray machines etc are why you have to turn off your cell phone when you go into a hospital etc

        3. dan1980

          Re: @zmodem

          ". . . leave omni directional nodes every few light years, you can just send out controls through the network array and it will always reach it destination, unless a node fails . . . packets have CRC and timestamps and so on."

          CRC. Over a 'few light years'. Sure - why not?

          Let's make the maths easy and say you drop your nodes every 1 ly. Node 1 (N1) relays its packet onto N2. Upon being recieved at N2, one year later, the packet fails the CRC. N2 then sends a NAK[1] to N1, which takes another year to get there.

          If you're keeping track, two years have elapsed.

          N1 must now re-send the packet, but where does that packet come from? The quickest option would be to have N1 resend the packet directly, rather than pass the NAK all the way back to the origin[2]. To do this, however, N1 would need to have a copy stored in its buffer. Given that two years have elapsed since it first relayed the packet, it stands to reason that each node would require enough storage to hold two full years worth of all data transmissions. Storing data in space, by the way, is not a trivial matter.

          But, this being a thought-experiment, let's assume that the nodes have enough storage and that the storage is robust enough to survive without corruption for the requisite 2 year period[3]. The replacement packet is duly dispatched[4] and this time, the CRC suceeds.

          Three years have now elapsed.

          Error correction is only useful in situations where the time for that correction to take place is less than the useful lifetime of the data you are transmitting. A storm warning, for example, is only useful until the storm hits.

          Further, it would take an inordinate amount of time to get confirmation that your message was received - at least the RTT over the entire distance. This, along with the usefulness of the data after the time elapsed is relevant as you propose using it for 'controls'. Even assuming that a control signal taking several years to transmit is still relevant when received, a device being controlled will need to relay telemetry data back to the controller so that it knows that its previous commands were received and executed correctly and what commands to send next.

          There are numerous other small and not so small complications here but the point is that communication of any type over interstellar distances is limited in utility by the speed of light. Any message more urgent than 36 years is simply not worth sending to or from any prospective colonists on GJ 436b.

          I can imagine a future where scattered human colonies send daily news journals between each other as a way of keeping in touch but meaningful two-way communication between such colonies would be impossible for all but the closest of them. By the time we received a message, we wouldn't know if the person who sent it was still alive.

          The depressing fact of the universe is not that we are alone, but that we likely aren't but yet will almost certainly never meet any of our 'neighbours'.

          1 - You could set it up with a standard ACK and RTT but that doesn't save any time, though it would prevent problems with a NAK being lost in transit.

          2 - Which may, itself, be several nodes (and therefore ly) away.

          3 - Even then, given this is proposed as an alternative to long-life storage, one must assume that the storage being used for the send/recieve buffers will need to be replaced periodically. Logistically, that would be difficult. If you imagine some colony ship dropping these nodes as it goes, by the time it gets to its destination, some of those nodes will certainly have failed.

          4 - Of course, once retransmitted, that packet will need to be stored for another two years, just in case, increasing the required storage capacity of the nodes.

          1. Zmodem

            Re: @zmodem

            but whats the chances of having a bad CRC, radio waves need to pass through the same radio waves with roughly the same hz to decay, there probably are only a few things that can make 3 terrahertz waves and magnetic teilds


            1. Zmodem

              Re: @zmodem

              creating a field with roughly the same hz is how jamming works

  8. hamcheeseandonion

    "We'd really like to determine the size........."

    I would have thought that was fairly obvious...

    GJ 436b

    GJ 1214b

    Where GJ stands for Giant Jubblies.

    Scientists eh?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We can't even take a picture of Pluto...a whatever-now-planet in our own solar system!

  10. Camilla Smythe

    The Deity Consortium Called to Say...

    Sorry we fucked yours, and a fair few others, up. However we are glad to say we think we have almost got it right with the latest batch. Naturally you can try to look but we have hidden them from your view. Things are looking good so don't expect the second cumming in your neck of the woods any time soon.

    Sent from My iProto-Planet.

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