[Herald Design Forum 2019] Do we need another planet?

By Shim Woo-hyun
  • Published : Oct 7, 2019 - 18:00
  • Updated : Oct 7, 2019 - 18:00

Do we need another planet? Ignasi Ribas is preparing for that worst-case scenario in which we really do need an alternative option.

Ribas is a scientist who leads an international team of exoplanet hunters at the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia. His work focuses on exoplanet research and precise knowledge of the stars. Ribas is actively involved in instrumentation projects, both on Earth and in space, with the aim of discovering new planets similar to Earth.

A picture of giant exoplanets and cometlike tails made of escaping helium particles, part of studies by the Carmenes consortium (IEEC)

At Herald Design Forum 2019, Ribas will talk about environmental issues that are making Earth less and less habitable, thus forcing us to look for alternative planets that are habitable or even human-friendly. In addition, Ribas will share his decadeslong experience in exoplanet research, including the discovery of the super-Earth.

Last year, Ribas and his team discovered a super-Earth that orbits Barnard’s star, the closest single star to the sun and second only to the Alpha Centauri triple stellar system.

The Earth-like planet was found after 18 years of research, including recent observations using high-precision instruments such as the Carmenes planet-hunter spectrograph at the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain.

The mass of this newfound planet is estimated to be three times that of Earth, and it orbits its cool red parent star every 233 days. Much more investigation is needed to see if it is habitable.

The discovery of the super-Earth is regarded as a landmark finding in academia, as it is relatively close to us and as such is a valuable research subject.

It also means we are now equipped with better instruments and techniques and are capable of observing new planets, scientists say.

With more advanced instruments and technology, future observations could reach far beyond what we are capable of now and scientists may someday come upon a planet with the right conditions to support life.

By Shim Woo-hyun (