Gliese 581c was mentioned in Discovery’s program ‘Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking’ that I watched on Sunday night. It’s the first planet really similar to what Earth is like and was discovered in 2007. Nice to know, since humans will have to ditch Earth once the sun starts to exhaust its hydrogen supply in a few billion years !
Of course, the challenges to get there is of galactic proportions. This planet is 20.5 light years away .. which means that it will take 75 years to get there with a spacecraft that can travel at 10 times the speed that our little-spacecraft-that-could Voyager 1* travels (11 miles per second). And where will the resources come from to build it?
*From Wikipedia : The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram (1,592 lb) space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. Operating for 33 years, 11 months and 3 days as of today (8 August 2011), the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. It will be the first probe to leave the Solar System and is the farthest man made object from Earth.
The final picture is from an old 2007 post from the UK’s Daily Mail, showing a possible view from the ‘new earth’.
S&P, you may recall, is one of the ratings agencies (the others being Moody’s and Fitch) that greased the skids of the financial crisis by awarding AAA ratings to tranche after tranche of mortgage bonds called collaterized debt obligations, or CDOs. Recall that, unlike U.S. Treasuries, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S., CDOs were underwritten by garbage mortgages — that is, backed by no-documentation “liar loans” and other Alt-A subprime pond scum handed to borrowers who otherwise couldn’t get a nickel’s worth of credit at their local dry cleaner.