Let's put things in perspective for a moment: it's pretty unlikely that we're here. The fact that you're reading this post is the result of a set...
Let's put things in perspective for a moment: it's pretty unlikely that we're here. The fact that you're reading this post is the result of a set of incredibly unlikely circumstances that began, about 4 billion years ago, with the dust from exploded stars floating through the vacuum of space; we've come a long way. Pat yourself on the back.But while your singular accomplishment of existing is impressive, haven't you ever wondered if perhaps you're not so special after all? NASA certainly has. The Kepler mission (named after Johannes Kepler, the 16th century astronomer who was the first to correctly explain planetary motion-way to go, Kep!), which launches March 5th, is going to find another earth. Ok, wants to find another Earth. Or an Earth-size planet. Or perhaps smaller.
Either way, it's the first mission of its kind, the goal of which is to "find terrestrial planets (i.e., those one half to twice the size of the Earth), especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water and possibly life might exist." Yep, they said "habitable." Mission scientists ultimately hope "to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets." In other words, they're narrowing down the odds finding a second earth, and potentially answering the question of whether or not we're alone in the universe. Sure, that's a bit of an overstatement. But it's not not what they're doing.So, pretty exciting, no?Photo by Flickr user jurvetson.