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Star Letter 014: The Intensifying Search for Alien Worlds

Earth is home and home is everything. We humans live out our lives on this third rock from the Sun because well, we’ve got nowhere else to go….for now.

A few generations from now, if human play their cards right, people will have the option of building a new life for themselves and their descendants on another world or worlds. Maybe they’ll start on the Moon or Mars. Maybe they’ll live in the asteroid belt. Maybe they’ll live in a submerged habitat on Europa. But maybe, just maybe, they’ll live on a new Earth in an entirely different solar system.

But how? Well first we have to find one. Then we can worry about interstellar travel.

This week’s Star Letter looks at the tech, vision, and tools that will one day help humanity discover potentially habitable ‘alien’ worlds. Will we find occupants already living on these worlds? That’s another question.

We kinda hope so.

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The Planet-Spotting Kepler Space Telescope Wakes From its Slumber

NASA’s low-on-fuel Kepler space telescope, which has discovered more than 2,650 alien planets to date, has awoken from yet another slumber and begun making science observations again.

The $600 million Kepler mission launched in March 2009, tasked with determining how common Earth-like planets are around the galaxy. The spacecraft initially studied more than 150,000 stars simultaneously, looking for tiny brightness dips caused by the passage of orbiting planets across these stars’ faces.

Read: Space.com

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Experts Call for a New Telescope to Search for Alien Worlds

Authors of the report, led by Harvard’s David Charbonneau and Ohio State University’s B. Scott Gaudi, voiced support for two space telescopes already in the works — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST. They also said NASA’s recently launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, would provide valuable information about Earth-size exoplanets as well.

“We’re alive at a very special moment in human history, where we don’t have to just wonder anymore,” Charbonneau told reporters. “If we choose, and the report presents a path to achieve this … we could learn the answer to that question. We could figure out whether or not there’s life on planets orbiting other stars in the next 20 years.”

Read: Yahoo

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Are Any of the Trappist-1 Planets Habitable?

The seven planets orbiting the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 are mostly rocky, with some potentially holding more liquid water than Earth.

New research reveals the density of the worlds within this crowded system to a greater precision than ever before. The findings reveal that some of the planets could have up to 5 percent of their mass in liquid water form, about 250 times as much water as found in Earth’s oceans.

Read: Space.com

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Florida Congressional Candidate Claims to Have Been Abducted by Aliens (Can We Grab Their Address?)

Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera is one of nine GOP candidates campaigning to represent Florida’s 27th Congressional District in Congress. She currently runs a business that trains women from other countries to run for office. Before that, she was a City Council member for the Miami suburb Doral, a social worker, and the ombudsman at the Miami-Dade county manager’s office. And even before all that, when she was still a child, she says she was taken aboard an alien spaceship by tall, blond extraterrestrials.

Read: New York Magazine

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Until next week, friends!

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