“We certainly won’t find ET but we might find ET’s home..”

After previous launch problems there were undoubtedly sighs of relief at NASA this morning when the Kepler mission – a search for habitable planets – got off the ground and safely entered its sun-centred orbit, trailing 950 miles behind Earth. And, via the Professor, here’s CosmicBlog’s Alan Boyle on the search for exo-planets. And a wondrous online catalogue of the exo-planets found to date – some of which have been noted on Slugger, including some potential ones. [Don’t forget to mention QUB! – Ed]. You just did. Here’s some historical background on Johannes Kepler, and here are some of the NASA scientists involved with Kepler on the background and science of the mission. Adds From the BBC report – “This is a historical mission; it’s not just a science mission,” said Dr Edward Weiler, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at Nasa. “I maintain that it really attacks some very basic human questions that have been part of our genetic code since that first man or woman looked up into the sky and asked the question: ‘are we alone?’.”

No space post would be complete without a launch video.. [It wouldn’t?! – Ed] So here you go. Kepler lift-off!

That “holy grail” might just be a little bit closer..

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  • Greenflag

    Aregato Gozaimashita Pete San 😉 So when we find a planet with the conditions for life as we know it or even evidence of life what then ? How will this practically affect the current human mindset ? Alien lifeforms or the supposition that they exist has been part of general western culture for at least the past 50 years ?

    Life originated on the Earth under conditions in which present life forms could not survive . The oxygenated atmosphere took a billion years to develop and to get from prokaryotes to single cell organisms to algae took all of 2 billion years. And even then the Earth was in the ‘Goldilocks’ Zone . Given the Earth is approx one third the age of the Universe and it’s taken almost 4 billion years for the Earth (via humanity to become aware of itself ) what might the probabilities be that somewhere out there beyond Betelgeuse there is an Alan Alien Greenspan still pursuing the holy grail of the efficient market hypothesis as an answer to the age old boom and bust cycle ? Lets hope that they have long since given up on that particular ‘holy grail’ as being as much a bucket of grot as Archbishop Ussher’s 4004 BC ‘Creation Day ‘ thesis ?

    I look forward to the results of this mission with ‘bated breath ‘ and yet at the same time a ‘deflated’ ego for even if we discover an Earth like second home on the far side of the galaxy it’s not conceivable how the human species or some of ‘us’ could ever escape the present known laws of physics and ‘warp’ our way to a new Eden ?

    On the other hand if no earth like planets are found and ‘life’ is not found except for here on thos small orb will this not encourage the ‘creationists ‘ of how ‘special ‘ te Earth is and how lucky we are to have a Creator who designed it and the universe -just so 😉

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks, Greenie, I think.. ;o)

    But I consider it very unlikely that no planets will be found in the Goldilocks zone.

    Although, whether this mission will find them is open for debate.

    It will, though, probably find very likely candidates.

  • Greenflag

    Pete ,

    ‘I consider it very unlikely that no planets will be found in the Goldilocks zone.’

    Agree but there’s more to complex never mind ‘intelligent’ life than just being in the
    Goldilocks zone . The ‘Rare Earth ‘ by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee gives a good overview of the long sequence of ‘lucky ‘ events as to how homo sapiens go to be here . Took a ‘mere ‘ 4 billion years . All life on earth is one as the scientists tell us at least in it’s derivation . Whether ‘life’ could be based on some other ‘principle’ than what life on this Earth is based is IMO the ‘unholy grail ‘ ;)?