You may be unique, but is your home planet? NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has uncovered thousands of planetary candidates, far far beyond our solar system. Some may be habitable and possibly even Earth-like. But now a failure in its steering apparatus may bring an abrupt end to this pioneering telescope’s search for new worlds.
But Kepler has a massive legacy of data still to be studied. Many new worlds will undoubtedly be found in these data. Hear why the astronomer who has discovered the greatest number of exoplanets is hopeful about the hunt for alien life, and meet the next generation of planet-hunting instruments.
Also, “Weird worlds? That was our idea!” Sci-fi writers lay claim to the first musings on exotic planetary locales. And a biographer of Magellan and Columbus describes the dangerous hunt for new worlds five centuries ago.
- Charlie Sobeck – Engineer, deputy project manager, Kepler Mission, NASA Ames Research Center
- Geoff Marcy – Astronomer, University of California, Berkeley
- Dan Clery – Deputy news editor, European office of Science
- Laurence Bergreen – author of Voyage to Mars, Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504, Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe (P.S.)
- Robert J. Sawyer – Hugo Award-winning author; most recently of Red Planet Blues