Remember the 1995 post-apocalyptic classic, Waterworld? That was a good movie. It had everything a movie needs to be a winner: Kevin Costner, and modified jet skis. I might even watch it again tonight. But enough about my titillating evening plans, scientists have confirmed an alien planet with a steamy atmosphere and more water than earth that's only 40 light years away. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? "Pool party?" Pool party barbeque. You bring the hot dogs.
The planet was discovered in 2009 by ground-based telescopes, orbiting its comparatively cool red-dwarf star at a distance of just two million km - meaning temperatures on GJ 1214b probably reach above 200C.
It is about 2.7 times the Earth's diameter but with a mass just seven times higher (at an equivalent density, to the Earth, it would have nearly 20 times the mass).
Calculations of the planet's density also suggest that GJ 1214b has more water than Earth. This means the internal structure of this world would be very different to that of our own.
"The high temperatures and pressures would form exotic materials like 'hot ice' or 'superfluid water', substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience," said Dr Berta.
Here's what we're gonna do: send a probe, gather some water, bring it back here, bottle it, and then sell it to rich people. Sure it'll probably be packed with alien bacteria that'll eat them from the inside out, but who cares -- we'll price it so high we won't need repeat customers! Now -- you start designing the probe, I'll get one of those science fair display boards and some markers and get to work on our trade show booth.
Distant 'water-world' confirmed [bbcnews]
Thanks to Ferris and Jon, who tried to convince me we'd never recoup the cost of sending and returning the probe. Pfft, leave the accounting to me guys. "I thought you failed business accounting the first time." THAT TEACHER HAD IT OUT FOR ME.