The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Billions and Billions of Planets ... & a Ship to Take Us There

News from the Hubble Space Telescope team: Kailash Sahu of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, states that there is at least one planet for every star in the Milky Way galaxy, according to the international team she represents, who have been studying extrasolar planets using microlensing observations. Within 50 light years of our home world, there are an estimated 1,500 planets. These findings are the results of six years of observations. The exciting conclusion of the study is that there are far more Earth-sized planets than giant Jupiter-sized worlds. The results of the study are released today (January 12, 2012) in the British journal Nature.

For more information, this is from News Release Number: STSci-2012-07 from the HubbleSite news archive. Or go to http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2012/07/full/ and see for yourself.

This is really exciting news. When I was growing up (watching Star Trek and dreaming of alien worlds), there were a wide range of kill-joy astronomers who were grumbling that it was quite likely our solar system was a freak in the universe and there were NO other planets out there. Well, to all you who said that and tried to crush a young man's dreams ... IN YOUR FACE!!!

Of course, today, there are an equal number of kill-joy, no fun scientists who say it doesn't matter if there are other planets out there because space is huge and we'll never be able to cross the void to reach them (and with today's technology they're right as it would take 100,000 years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, with what we've got). Well, for you spoil sports, here's the news via my friends at Universe Today: NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) are sponsoring the 100 Year Starship Project to develop the technologies required to send a manned mission to the stars and all those myriad planets. The new leader of this long term endeavor is former Space Shuttle astronaut (and the first African-American woman in space in 1992) Mae Jemison. One of the objectives of this project is to stay alive long enough as a non-governmental organization supported by private-sector funding to develop the many disciplines needed to make deep space travel viable. For the full article and a link to more information on this project, go to: http://www.universetoday.com/92528/100-year-starship-project-has-a-new-leader/

Scientific discoveries and advancements just keep getting more interesting and exciting every day. This is a great time to be alive!

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