TRAPPIST 1

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard by now of the latest big discovery, that being four new exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST 1, a star in the constellation of Aquarius. Aquarius is visible on the Northern Hemisphere, but TRAPPIST 1 cannot be seen with the naked eye.

TRAPPIST 1 is an ultra-cool dwarf star, at least 500 million years in age. That is a minimum age estimate, and in reality the star could be several billion years old. At about 8% Solar mass and 11% Solar radius, TRAPPIST 1 is likely to live much longer than our Sun.

TRAPPIST 1 is about 39,5 light years away. With our current methods it is of course unreachable, but I’m thinking this would be a strong candidate for my story. Three of the planets are within habitable zone, and assuming the have any sort of atmosphere they may also have water.

I suck at math, but from a few calculations I did last night (and probably botched), a generation ship could cover the distance in less than ten generations with even 50% light-speed. Now, for the sake of fiction that might be plausible.

So, the planets. Three planets were found already back in 2015, but now the team had more data and found four more planets. Even more new data will become available early this coming March (to the public on the 6th). This new data is by the Kepler telescope and spans over 70 days of observation. It might give new insight as to whether there are even more planets on orbit, what the planet masses are for the currently discovered planets and the orbital period of 1h. Also, Kepler takes observations on the overall brightness of TRAPPIST 1.

So, the three most interesting are the ones in the habitable zone, called 1e, f and g. 1e is about 0,7 Earth masses, f the smallest at about 0,6 and g the largest at 1,1. G gets about as much light from TRAPPIST 1 as the zone between Mars and the asteroid belt get from the Sun, f about as much as Mars. 1e is the most Earth-like, as it gets about as much light.

Even more new information can be discovered after the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch 2018. JWST is accurate enough to give readings on the gas composition of the planets’ atmospheres and the presence of water or other gases usually resulting from life (I say usually, because oxygen and ozone can also be created by chemical reactions or the star’s unusually high UV radiation). Among these gases are oxygen, ozone and methane. These readings will be available in about five years.

As TRAPPIST 1 is rather small, the planets are quite close together. This causes the planets to have gravitational impact with each other, which could also cause consequences on planet surface. The strength of the impact is dependent on the strength of the planets’ possible atmospheres. The positive side of this effect is that it allows the planets’ masses to be more carefully measured than otherwise.

The other negative effect are the solar flares. TRAPPIST 1 has flare occurrences weekly and bigger flares bi-annually. Unless the planets have magnetic fields they cannot resist the radiation and will most likely be uninhabitable.

SETI is observing TRAPPIST 1, but so far nothing has been received. It’s also been pointed out that due to the extreme distance the signal would most likely be static anyway.

Apart from these news I also discovered a couple interesting points I need to explore further in my story. I’ve been trying to figure out how I could make a generation ship work – how medical care skills, engineering skills and so on can be passed on as the first Earth-trained generation ages and dies away.

That’s the main issue: spare parts can be stocked up and the amount of fuel must be system-regulated and present at takeoff. The engines and other systems must be kept in operating condition through the journey, though, and the passengers must arrive in acceptable health and numbers to settle.

I have some solutions thought out, but I doubt none of the first-level solutions will be manageable all the way through. We’ll see.

So long for now, the Sun is shining and I’m going to enjoy that while it lasts.

 

 

 

 

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Cleaning Frenzy

I’ve had so much stuff I’ve needed to do around the apartment I’ve had very little time to give to writing. It’s not just physical cleaning I’ve being doing though, I’ve been airing my head as well.

On the positive side though, I’m pretty much done with the most urgent of my chores.

There’s just so much more to do (and even the ‘non-urgent’ list is stuff I should have really done years ago. Shame on me.) that sometimes I don’t know where to start.

I hadn’t even realized how much energy I was spending on working until I stopped doing that. No wonder this place was (and in places still is) a mess. Honestly, though, I’ve learned that no more than 50% of the mess can be my fault and therefore I should expect the creator of the other 50% to take some responsibility. He’s getting there, but sometimes I just have to wonder.

On the stuff more related to this blog, I also frenzied through my bookshelf.

Now you must be wondering what my priorities are, if my bookshelf is on my urgent list. I’ll get there.

I took out all the books I’d read (but had remained under the notion “I just might have time to read this again here”, which is unlikely) and those I plan to take with me to North Karelia. They’re packed up and are waiting for me to take them over to the basement. The box to North Karelia will be staying upstairs. I’m not sure about those yet and I might add stuff – but then I’ll need another box (I’m awful and I have zero impulse control on books).

That’s part of why they were on the urgent list, really. If I get them out from underfoot I’ll have more room to pack some more. We’ve a lot of stuff and this is not a big apartment. (And my furniture is not good for this particular flat, but that’s another story entirely.)

I also vow I’ll buy no more books until the bookshelf is done. I really have to keep this one because I have to carry those things out of here. I love them, but really I need a house to keep them in as is.

There are many interesting books still waiting, so shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Just have to stay home and away from any store in Finland (every grocery store has some pocket books – might not be good, but they’re everywhere).

Regarding my Malleus reading journal though, I realized I’d at some point packed away the Bible I was supposed to cross-reference from. D’oh. Hope it’s not in the basement. I’m NOT opening those boxes again until I’m at my next apartment. (If it’s there the Malleus reading journal is officially on hiatus until next autumn.)

Trying to sort through my inflated worldly possessions has taught me to be better at letting go as well. I have some hoarding tendencies and sometimes get a bit too attached to inanimate objects, but there’s just got to be a line somewhere. I’ve thrown away a lot of stuff I’d kept for ‘that one day when I’ll fix this shit’. Should throw away a lot more, but hey, it’s really a process. Should I capitalize that? Maybe.

Having a clear-set deadline has always been a help for me, and knowing that we won’t be having a place of our own for a couple months really puts pressure into throwing away the unnecessary. I just dread the look on our parents’ faces when they realize what they’ve agreed to…

Anyway, just to let you know I didn’t die over the New Year’s. I’ve been so inspired lately, who knows what’ll happen regarding the actually interesting stuff instead of my housework.

Hopefully. My muses are fickle and cruel.

(And yeah, I’m just posting about doing my chores. I’m so sorry.)