It’s difficult to believe that the first verifiable detection of an extrasolar planet didn’t occur until 1992. Granted, that was about 20 years ago, but in the grand scheme of human progress, we’ve only recently ventured beyond the confines of our own little section of the galaxy. And only through observation, at that!
Tomorrow, NASA will unveil a new set of planets discovered by the Kepler space observatory, a spacecraft that has been hunting Earth-like planets since its launch on March 7, 2009.
It’s only been in action for about three years, but already the Kepler has discovered 1,235 potential alien worlds, 27 of which have been confirmed.
One such planet has been found to be so hot iron would melt on its surface. Put that one on your list of planets to avoid.
You know, if you ever find yourself in that position.
Update – December 7, 2011: Kepler has now confirmed 28 habitable planets, and the data revealed Monday raises its potential discovery total from 1,235 to 2,326. New studies report that “99.9 percent or so” may eventually be confirmed alien worlds.