Goldilocks And The Five Planets

Book your travel plans early, the closest one is millions of years of travel time away.

NASA finds dozens of planets that might support life

A catalog of possible planets discovered far out in space includes more than 50 candidates that could possibly support life, NASA scientists said Wednesday. If, as expected, most of the planets are confirmed as real, the Kepler mission — now finishing its second year — would nearly triple the number of planets discovered over the last decade and a half.

With 1,235 planetary candidates surrounding a collective 997 stars in an area 500 to 3,000 light-years away, the tally to date provides a wealth of data for scientists to sift through in search of Earth-like planets.

“This is the first step in understanding the possible distribution of life in our galaxy,” said William Borucki, principal investigator for the Kepler mission at NASA Ames Research Center in the Bay Area’s Moffett Field.

He noted that of the candidate planets, 54 reside in the so-called Goldilocks range — in a “just right” distance from its star to be neither too hot nor too cold to permit liquid water and therefore the presence of life as we know it. Five of those 54 are close to Earth’s size.

The space-based Kepler telescope, which circles the sun trailing Earth’s orbit, observes more than 155,000 stars and every half-hour measures the amount of light they give off. If a planet is orbiting a star, it is detectable because it temporarily blocks a bit of light each time it crosses in front of its star.

See also:
5 Earth-sized planets spied in ‘habitable zone’
NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets
NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets
1,235 alien planets out there?
Kepler space telescope is finding a cornucopia of possible planets
NASA reveals more than 1,200 potential planets
Hunt for planets yields surprises
Kepler space telescope spots five Earth-sized planets in our galaxy
NASA Detects Potential ‘Habitable Zone’ Planets
Kepler: Home Page
Kepler (spacecraft)

Well, this is a great scientific achievement, but I’m not sure what practical value there is in it. Okay, so there’s all these possibly habitable planets, so what?

/we’ll never get there to find out for sure.

Cosmic Neighborhood Watch, Keeping Us Safe From Extinction Events

NASA Launches Comet-Hunting Space Camera

NASA on Monday successfully launched a space telescope designed to create a highly detailed map of the heavens and spot comets and asteroids that could pose a threat to life on Earth.

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, lifted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base atop a Delta II rocket at 6:09 a.m. PST.

“”WISE thundered overhead, lighting up the pre-dawn skies,” said William Irace, mission project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif.

“All systems are looking good, and we are on our way to seeing the entire infrared sky better than ever before,” said Irace.

WISE will use an infrared camera to map the cosmos. The mission calls for the unmanned spacecraft to cover the entire sky one-and-a-half times, until its frozen coolant runs out. NASA hopes it will capture everything from near-Earth asteroids to distant galaxies teeming with stars.

“The last time we mapped the whole sky at these particular infrared wavelengths was 26 years ago,” noted UCLA’s Edward Wright, who is principal mission manager.

“Infrared technology has come a long way since then. The old all-sky infrared pictures were like impressionist paintings—now we’ll have images that look like actual photographs,” said Wright.

WISE is designed to provide information about the size, composition, and texture of near-Earth objects such as comets and asteroids.

“We can help protect our Earth by learning more about the diversity of potentially hazardous asteroids and comets,” said Amy Mainzer, deputy project scientist for the mission at JPL.

WISE will also attempt to document the cycle of life in the Universe, as it will capture faraway images of star-hatching galaxies and ravenous, planet-eating black holes.

See also:
WISE Spacecraft Seeks Near Earth Objects, New Stars Using Infrared Wavelengths
NASA launches new mapping spacecraft
Utah-made telescope blasts into space
Infrared Space Telescope Launched From California
NASA launches spacecraft that will map stars, galaxies, asteroids
NASA Craft To Photograph Entire Universe
Nasa sky survey probe blasts off
NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer launched
NASA’s WISE (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer) telescope launched
NASA – Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
Delta II Overview
Delta II

/WISE is not only good science, but a good idea for protecting the Earth, well done NASA and JPL