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Kepler may have found Earth-sized planets in habitable zone:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/nov/HQ_M11-243_Kepler.html?hpclick=hpticker

The fact that they are making the announcement so early in the morning (normally NASA waits until noon for their press releases), and that the "coming soon" blurb specifically mentions that Kepler has been searching for Earth-like worlds makes me think that they found something.

Already Kepler has found some worlds that could, in theory, have liquid water on the surface, but they were all large planets (four times larger than our own, so that gravity would crush multicellular organisms), or worlds around red dwarf stars (and thus the planets are likely tidally locked - one side faces the sun at all times. Not impossible for life to handle, but not great for Earth-life, either). This could mean that they found a world the size of Earth, orbiting a star much like our own, at a distance close to the distance that we orbit the sun.
 
 2 USAF713, Sun, 4th Dec '11 9:24:46 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
~shrug~

Doesn't matter until we've got a method of getting there and surviving and a fuckton of money. We can't even put a guy on Mars yet, after all...
I am now known as Flyboy.
Princess Ymir's knightess
It's still interesting...

 4 Marquis Dev, Sun, 4th Dec '11 10:47:05 PM from somewhere in the West
MONKEY MAGIC
Correct me if I'm wrong but won't NASA lose funding soon? Who exactly would lead the exploration into these planets?

edited 4th Dec '11 10:47:21 PM by MarquisDev

I am Hope - Dream
 5 USAF713, Sun, 4th Dec '11 10:51:11 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
The Russians, Euro... well, countries in Europe, and China still have space programs, and we're piggy-backing with Russia.
I am now known as Flyboy.
[up]NASA always losses funding, but the good news is that the public seems to be coming around to the fact that within ten years, we might land on a rock that isn't the Moon - and at that point, the benjamins will start to come rolling in.

Not to mention, they are hiring PR guys. The first conversation involved the PR fellows asking why the hell NASA doesn't think it is cool and has brand pull - it was a funny read!

What I hope though is that this time, we set up a permanent base camp on another world, and eventually expand it into a self-sufficient colony. We have the technology, we lack the will.

But I digress. The good news is that yes, NASA is getting defunded, but most of the important programs are continuing - the Webb got extended, as did Kepler, and Mars Curiosity is perhaps the most badass planetary mission we have every done. The ones that got the plug pulled were going to be cool missions that I will miss (especially the plans to land on Europa and Titan), but right now I think we ought to make our priority Mars and building a manned craft, with a view towards colonization of the Red World.
 
 7 USAF713, Sun, 4th Dec '11 10:56:52 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Any monetary gain from space exploration is really far down the line, and doesn't alone justify the costs of doing it.

Extraneous scientific advancement is a better way to sell it. NASA is good at making useful things for space travel that can be repurposed without doing stupidly dangerous experiments to make them.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 8 Ace of Spades, Sun, 4th Dec '11 11:10:52 PM from The Wild Blue Yonder Relationship Status: I wanna know about these strangers like me
Any chance that we could actually get something accomplished by putting money into NASA would very quickly put NASA in the red. Americans do love their one-upmanship, after all. Plus, once the idea is plausible that we could find another place that's Earthlike and land there becomes more "a thing that can happen" and less "something out of Star Trek" all governments with the capabilities will become much more interested in working towards that.
[up]Interstellar colonization is still a ways off, but colonization of the solar system has been possible since the 1960s. Imagine, setting out to Mars with your family to put down a small dome and start raising some crops. It would be just like the Wild West, but IN SPACE! (so, Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Trigun...). Gold rushes would happen too in the form of mining asteroids. Imagine the adventure, the possibility, the excitement!
 
 10 USAF713, Sun, 4th Dec '11 11:18:15 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
...Space exploration doesn't work like Firefly...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 11 Ace of Spades, Sun, 4th Dec '11 11:28:15 PM from The Wild Blue Yonder Relationship Status: I wanna know about these strangers like me
Yeah, our technology still has a long ways to go before we can actually build sustainable colonies on other worlds. Or you know, actually get there since this thing is in another system. (I'd assume that we'd find a way to colonize Mars first, since in relative distances it's right there next to us.)

Still, Gold Rushes and surges for other resources are likely once the technology is developed. We do like to acquire stuff.

edited 4th Dec '11 11:28:59 PM by AceofSpades

 12 Ailedhoo, Sun, 4th Dec '11 11:31:26 PM from an unknown location
Before we go to the New World that is this newly discovered colonisable planet... we must learn to sail the stars.

On the very bright side a simulation program to test astronauts social and resource conditions on their way to Mars was completed successful not ago. old news but very relative to this

If we can succeed in colonising Mars, we can begin the next stage of our evolution as a species and colonise beyond our little Solar System.

A single step for space development is a great leap for humanity.

[up]And for all we know, there might be some magic rocks floating around somewhere in our solar system that give us a huge technological breakthrough. Oh...so that's where the magnetic monopoles were hiding!...
 
 14 Radical Taoist, Mon, 5th Dec '11 5:57:00 AM from the #GUniverse
And I totally called it: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepscicon-briefing.html

Too bad the things six hundred light-years away. That is, IF we could travel the speed of light, sending a probe to this planet would take six hundred years.

Still, we can always monitor this planet for radio signals, and perhaps one day even get a spectral reading of its atmosphere - to see if it has oxygen.
 
Three-Puppet Saluter
...NASA is still doing things? Things that involve locating habitable planets? And private industry is picking up their slack in the space travel department?

Holy shit. I might live to see the generation ships launched yet. :D :D :D
Righto. This box you saw. Was it in some kind of desolate rust belt?
 17 Spooky Mask, Mon, 5th Dec '11 10:55:20 AM from Corner in round room Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Insert title
Yes, let's go to a planet which can keep humans alive and suppress whatever kind of native alien life we will find! :D
Time to change the style, for now
Three-Puppet Saluter
You know, there is a reason Stephen Hawking had to remind us that any extraterrestrials capable of picking up our radio signals might not be friendly - the reason being that those of us who are raving about Space, The Final Frontier have a Star Trek worldview into the bargain.

Besides, that's three hurdles beyond the planet being in a Goldilocks Zone - life, multicellular life, and the ability to accrue knowledge over generations - before we have to deal with alien civilizations.
Righto. This box you saw. Was it in some kind of desolate rust belt?
[up]One explanation behind the Fermi "paradox" is a pretty simple one. Fermi supposes that if an intelligent life-form gained insterstellar travel it would conquer the galaxy in a few centuries, and considering that out of the billions of stars in the milky way there's bound to be a few with civilizations millions of years ahead of our own, the fact that we have yet to encounter a technologically superior culture at first seems baffling.

That it, it seems baffling to an astrophysicists, but not to a biologists. What Fermi is describing - growth with no limiting factor - does not occur in nature. The most common limiting factor? Competition. When you treat civilizations as competitors, it starts to make sense why we have yet to make contact - the really advanced alien civilizations are too busy fighting each other to bother with us.
 
Cmdr. of His Supremacy's Armed Forces
I'm hoping I see New London, New Washington and New Moscow on another planet in my lifetime...It's making me really sad that we're just squabbling on Earth...
[up]New New York?

I say at least for large place names just continue with what we already have. for instance, the Maria, or "seas", on the Moon have great, whimsical names when you translate them to English: Sea of Storms, Sea of Clouds, Sea of Nectar...I'm also fond of Mars and all its Greek mythology shout-outs.

As for colony names themselves, so long as one of the Martian colonies is named Kingdom of Helium I'll be satisfied.

Oh, and if we terraform the planet, at least one of the rivers needs to be named the River Iss.

edited 5th Dec '11 1:53:59 PM by MyGodItsFullofStars

 
Three-Puppet Saluter
Personally, I'm hoping for The Independent Republic of Exterra or something. No need to export bad blood at the very outset. (And given the whole bit about it being six hundred light years away, it's not terribly feasible to have a unified culture with Earth anyway.)
Righto. This box you saw. Was it in some kind of desolate rust belt?
[up]I wonder what the name of this planet's star is. Sadly its probably one with nothing but letters and numbers...
 
Three-Puppet Saluter
Yeah, they stopped using names a while ago. But given the nature of the discovery, that might change. D'you think today's elementary schoolers are up for polling?
Righto. This box you saw. Was it in some kind of desolate rust belt?
 25 USAF713, Mon, 5th Dec '11 2:02:09 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
We can start predicting what the culture will be like when we actually have the technology to get there in a reasonable amount of time and colonize the place without requiring a constant stream of supplies from Earth...
I am now known as Flyboy.
Total posts: 156
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