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First Earth-sized planets found

Big news: The first Earth-sized planets have been found by Kepler.

The two planets, dubbed Kepler-20e and 20f, are the smallest planets found to date. They have diameters of 6,900 miles and 8,200 miles – equivalent to 0.87 times Earth (slightly smaller than Venus) and 1.03 times Earth. These worlds are expected to have rocky compositions, so their masses should be less than 1.7 and 3 times Earth’s.

Both worlds circle Kepler-20: a G-type star slightly cooler than the Sun and located 950 light-years from Earth. (It would take the space shuttle 36 million years to travel to Kepler-20.) Kepler-20e orbits every 6.1 days at a distance of 4.7 million miles. Kepler-20f orbits every 19.6 days at a distance of 10.3 million miles. Due to their tight orbits, they are heated to temperatures of 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit and 800 degrees F.

Once again, this is only the beginning. The announcement of an Earth in the habitable zone is only a matter of months away.

Pioneer cover

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.

2 comments

  • Ron

    I wonder about all this. Even if we should find a habitable planet, with intelligent life, it would take centuries just to have a conversation with the inhabitants. Moreover, actually visiting or hosting a visitor, given the distance, is impossible. 950 light years away … we are looking at light that left these place over 9 centuries ago.
    Again, what is to be gained, other than providing government supported employment to a few scientists from all the effort?

  • Chris Kirkendall

    Science is about discovery & understanding. If we say there should be no Science unless it’s practical, there’ll never be much of it – certainly not groundbreaking discoveries. I think a case could be made that MOST new scientific discoveries initially had little, if any, practical benefit. Man seeks to know – we are (and always should be) on a quest to understand our world, the universe, life, how things work, what matter is really made up of, etc. Neither Relativity nor Quantum Physics were probably thought to be especially practical when the theories first began to prove out, but they make a lot of modern technological wonders possible…

    Knowing whether there’s even the POSSIBILITY that life could exist elsewhere has profound implications for humanity – are we all alone in this vast Cosmos? Or are there other intelligent beings out there? And if so, how does that affect our faith & belief in God? It’s far more than just an academic exercise that’s a waste of time…

    If Man ever stops wondering, discovering, wanting to know, we’ll become not much more than just a smart Ape…

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