LITTLE FERRY, NJ.., October 17, 1995 -- The recent discovery of a planet orbiting a nearby Sun-like star has delighted scientists seeking extra-terrestrial life, according to Dr. H. Paul Shuch, Executive Director of the non-profit SETI League, Inc. "We've long suspected that other solar-type stars would harbor planets," noted the radioastronomer, "but this is the first solid evidence to uphold our theories."
Discovery of a planet orbiting 51 Pegasus, a solar twin 42 light years away, was announced on October 6 by Michel Mayor of the Geneva Observatory. Independent confirmation came from Geoff Marcy at California's Lick Observatory just ten days later. The planet is believed to resemble an iron-nickel bowling ball about half the mass of Jupiter. Reports Shuch, "with a surface temperature of about 1000 degrees C, it doesn't appear to be a particularly good place for ET to call home."
On the other hand, he points out, it's possible that this is just one of a whole family of planets in 51 Peg's solar system, some of which might be inhabited. "From that far out," says Shuch, "alien astronomers viewing our Sun might be able to detect only Jupiter. They could merely speculate that it might be part of a retinue of planets, at least one of which harbors intelligent life."
SETI scientists seek to determine through microwave and optical measurements whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have been attempting to privatize the research. Experimenters interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, or citizens wishing to help support it, should email to join_at_setileague_dot_org, check the SETI League Web site at http://www.setileague.org/, send a fax to +1 (201) 641-1771, or contact The SETI League, Inc. membership hotline at +1 (800) TAU-SETI. Be sure to provide us with a postal address to which we will mail further information. The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported, non-profit [501(c)(3)], educational and scientific corporation dedicated to the electromagnetic Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
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