Barry’s Gleanings: Planets, Planets . . .
“Science-fiction writers have been dreaming up alien planets for decades . . . [S]cience had to wait until 1992 for proof that such planets did exist .. . Thanks to a combination of ground-based telescopes and planet-hunting satellites, particularly one called Kepler, which was launched in 2009, more than 3,500 such worlds are known.
Unlike their depiction in fiction, reasonably few are much like Earth . .. And almost all are far, far away . . . .
From 2017, though, that will change. In December a successor to Kepler, called TESS (for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), will be launched into orbit. It is designed to survey the entire sky, looking for the sorts of exoplanets that are of most interest to humans – ones that are small (like Earth), rocky (like Earth), and relatively close by . . . . The new satellite should spot about 3,000 planets.
In August 2016, scientists announced the discovery of an Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, which, at 4.25 light-years away, is the closest star to the Sun.
Yuri Milner, a Russian billionaire and physicist . . . is already working with Stephen Hawking, a British theoretical physicist, on plans for a tiny, laser-propelled probe that could cover the distance in about 20 years” (139).
From “Planets, planets everywhere” by Tim Cross in The Economist: The World in 2017.
Our fiction and our scientific facts are changing — and all most interesting.
Aloha, Barry (and Renée)