Small Planets

blue planet 3These are small planets, relatively speaking. 715 confirmed. A bounty larger than any single discovery in space. I don’t think a passel of comets or asteroids this large has ever been announced.

These planets are smaller than Neptune and bigger than the Earth, mostly. MIT astronomer Sara Seeger:

With hundreds of new validated planets, Kepler reinforces its major finding that small planets are extremely common in our galaxy. And I’m super-excited about this, being one of the people working on the next generation of space telescopes – we hope to put up direct imaging missions, and we need to be reassured that small planets are common.

Sometime this century, we’ll be able to see planets of other stars. They won’t be data points churned out be space telescopes and computers. The questions won’t end there, of course. Suppose astronomers saw a planet like the one I fabricated in the image above. Trillions of miles away, and not much chance to get any closer. Dry land and oceans? Clouds of water vapor? Or maybe clouds of poison and a surface of graphite and diamond instead of sand and soil.

 

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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