Science World

Online Catalog Lists Potentially-Habitable Planets

Looking for another planet to live one?  A new online catalog might help you with that.

Hundreds of possible planets have been discovered outside of our Solar System in the past couple of decades.

Since the first confirmed detection of one in 1992, some 707 of these  exoplanets have been identified, according to the online Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia.

This "periodic table" of exoplanets, including confirmed and NASA Kepler candidates, divide most of the known exoplanets into six mass and three temperatures groups (18 categories total).

This periodic table, of confirmed and candidate exoplanets, divides most of the known exoplanets into six mass and three temperature groups, 18 categories total. (PHL copyright UPR Arecibo)

The Kepler Mission, NASA’s first mission capable of finding Earth-sized planets around other stars has identified 1,235 exoplanet candidates, although only 27 have been confirmed.

A team of astronomers from the California Institute of Technology  just announced it has discovered 18 new Jupiter-like exoplanets.

Back in September 2010, a team of astronomers made headlines when they announced their discovery of the first potentially-habitable exoplanet – with three times the mass of Earth – orbiting a nearby star called Gliese 581.

Now scientists at the Planetary Habitability Laboratory of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo (UPR Arecibo) have come up with the new online assessment of the habitability of these new planets.

It’s called the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog (HEC). Officials at the laboratory say the catalog not only identifies new potential habitable exoplanets, including exomoons (satellites of exoplanets), but also ranks them according to various habitability indicators.

“One important outcome of these rankings is the ability to compare exoplanets from best to worst candidates for life,” says Abel Méndez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory and principal investigator of the project.

HEC features new habitability assessments like the Earth Similarity Index (ESI) or the “easy scale,” which measures how similar planets are to Earth on a scale from zero to one, with one being identical to Earth.

The Habitable Zones Distance (HZD) is a measure of how far a planet is from the center of its parent star habitable zone (HZ) and the Global Primary Habitability (GPH), measures the surface suitability of a planetary body for a global biosphere.

The catalog also uses other previously established classification systems and compares each potentially-habitable planet with Earth, both past and present.

Getting Trauma Patients to ‘Chill’ Could Save Lives

A young man suffering from severe gunshot wounds is rushed to the emergency room.

The  patient – who has lost a lot of blood and continues to bleed profusely – goes into cardiac arrest.

Despite the doctors’ best efforts, the young patient bleeds to death.

It’s not an uncommon scenario.  Less than 10 percent of trauma patients suffering cardiac arrest survive, even if their injuries can be repaired, according to the Acute Care Research center.

With a bit more time to control the patient’s bleeding, the odds of survival could increase for many trauma victims.

Inducing profound hypothermia might just give doctors the time they need.

More than 20 years ago, Dr. Peter Safar and Col. Ron Bellamy suggested rapidly inducing hypothermia in trauma patients suffering cardiac arrest would buy that extra time to control bleeding.

Preclinical studies at the University of Pittsburgh show reducing body temperature to as low as 50ºF (10ºC) can prolong the period of cardiac arrest, even when a patient has lost most of his blood.

Dr. Safar’s colleague, Dr. Sam Tisherman is now taking this research to the next step, leading a study to explore and test the feasibility and safety of this hypothermia treatment.

The technique is called Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation. The patient’s body temperature is lowered by pumping a large volume of cold fluid through a large tube, called a cannula, which is placed into the aorta, the largest artery in the human body.

Then, to restore the patient’s blood circulation and oxygenation, doctors use a heart-lung bypass machine as part of the resuscitation process.

The study is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, coordinated by the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and will be conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Maryland.

Watch Dr. Tisherman explain the Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation technique and what the  new research project will entail.

>>>> Listen to the interview here

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Other stories we cover on the “Science World” radio program this week include: