The planet Gliese 581d looks like it might be a great vacation destination in the future, if Virgin Galactic gets its spacecraft up to speed. The planet is 20 light years away, so saying that something is confirmed is a little sketchy at that distance. However, the planet does orbit in the “Goldilocks zone” which is not too near and not too far away from the star to support life. 581d orbits a red dwarf star, leaving the surface of the planet in perpetual “murky red twilight”.
The planet seems to be warm and wet enough to support life, according to scientists. Gliese 581d orbits the red dwarf star Gliese 581, which even at 20 light years away, is one of our closest neighbours.
581d is larger than Earth, with about twice Earth’s gravity, and it has a thick carbon-dioxide atmosphere. The air would be dense, with thick clouds. France’s National Centre for Scientific Research, modeled the conditions of 581d and surmised that liquid water and possibly oceans could exist on the planet. Sounds nice.
But before you start calling Richard Branson to book your trip, keep in mind that unless we invent warp speed in the near future, Gliese 581d will be quite a haul. At light speed, it would take 20 years, and with our current technology it would take 300,000 years. Still, it’s interesting to think about possible life there, and what it might look like.