Big Picture Science – Exoplanets

by Gary Niederhoff on June 17, 2013


Exoplanets

You may be unique, but is your home planet? NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has uncovered thousands of planetary candidates, far far beyond our solar system. Some may be habitable and possibly even Earth-like. But now a failure in its steering apparatus may bring an abrupt end to this pioneering telescope’s search for new worlds.

But Kepler has a massive legacy of data still to be studied. Many new worlds will undoubtedly be found in these data. Hear why the astronomer who has discovered the greatest number of exoplanets is hopeful about the hunt for alien life, and meet the next generation of planet-hunting instruments.

Also, “Weird worlds? That was our idea!” Sci-fi writers lay claim to the first musings on exotic planetary locales. And a biographer of Magellan and Columbus describes the dangerous hunt for new worlds five centuries ago.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Intro to Planet Hunting with Dan Clery
Part 2: Kepler Update with Charlie Sobeck
Part 3: Life After Kepler with Geoff Marcy
Part 4: A History of Exploration with Laurence Bergreern
Part 5: New Planet Hunting Tools with Dan Clery
Part 6: Sci-Fi’s Contribution to Exploration with Robert Sawyer

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