NASA has discovered 54 new planets that might be habitable to humans, either giving us a planet for vacation homes or an escape plan for the end of the world. The planets are part of a larger discovery by Kepler telescope that includes 1,235 possible planets outside Earth’s solar system. Exciting! But…the Christian Science Monitor reports, “The potential finds, which must clear an arduous, detailed confirmation process, still fall short of the ultimate goal, finding an Earth-size planet orbiting a sun-like star at Earth-like distances.”
Seth Shostak, a Senior Astronomer at SETI Institute, writing on HuffPo about the findings, said the next step might be finding alien life.
This is big news, and the search for radio transmissions from these latter worlds is already underway. Finding a signal would be shattering, for it would tell us that a planet is home to technologically savvy inhabitants.
We haven’t been to astronomy school but if we’ve learned anything from movies, people from far-far-away galaxies are much more technologically advanced than we are. We should obviously be looking for WiFi signals.
Scientists still have to confirm each planet is really a planet and not just “optical illusions.” But because we live in 2011, the hive-mind is ready to solve this problem. The Christian Science Monitor reports:
Fischer explains that the researchers have established Planethunters.org — a website where people can look at graphs of the light output from the stars Kepler is observing and hunt for the telltale signs of a planet candidate. So far, she says, some 16,000 participants worldwide have identified hundreds of “solid” transiting-planet candidates, as well as previously undiscovered eclipsing binary stars.
Fischer, a little advice for you: Call Reddit, they’ll have us in a space house in 24 hours.