At a press conference today the science team at Kepler announced a swath of new discoveries from the space telescope, all of which point to the impending discovery of multiple Earth-like planets capable of harboring life.
- The confirmation of a rocky planet 2.4 times the mass of the Earth in the habitable zone of a star, with an orbit 290 days long. Though the planet, Kepler-22B, is slightly closer to its star than the Earth, the star, a G star like our sun and six hundred light years away, is also slightly dimmer. The scientists estimate that the planet’s average surface temperature would be approximately 72 degrees Fahrenheit!
- The telescope now has more than 2326 planet candidates, with 207 approximately Earth-size, 680 super Earth-size, 1,181 Neptune-size, 203 Jupiter-size, and 55 larger than Jupiter.
- Of these, 48 candidate planets are considered to be in the habitable zone, 10 of which are approximately Earth-sized. Five of these are considered “very robust candidates,” according to Natalie Batalha of the Kepler team. “Many of these planets could harbor life,” added project scientist Bill Borucki.
Because of the significance of this new Kepler data, the SETI Institute has been using the Allen Telescope Array to focus its search to these planets in particular, looking for any evidence of intelligent radio signals.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him. The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today. He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future. Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.