Our new eye in the sky

As an antidote to the last post, and the backward march religion seems intent on making, here’s a piece of scientific progress that proves humanity itself, despite certain member factions, will progress, pushing forward into the darkness. The Kepler mission has successfully launched, and is now a solar satellite, having escaped the bonds of Earth’s gravitational pull.

For those of you not in the know, the Kepler mission is intended to search for extrasolar Earth-like planets (meaning specifically, planets within a star’s Goldilocks zone of a roughly Earth-like mass, with detectable organic compounds and water). We’ve been finding extrasolar planets in the hundreds lately, so finding out how likely it is for an Earth-like planet to exist is just one more step in the march toward finding a habitable planet that we can colonize, and/or another planet on which life has formed or may potentially form. Finding other planets where life formed could potentially give us an idea of just how lucky we are to exist, or just how common life is in the vastness of our universe. Remember, there’s roughly 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and roughly 100 billion galaxies visible to us presently. Just like our planet is not the centre of our solar system, our sun is not in the centre of our galaxy, and our galaxy is not in the centre of our universe, in either a physical or metaphorical sense.

As Phil Plait says, this is a new era in astronomy. No exaggeration.

Our new eye in the sky

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