600 Million And Some Change
I’m not a fan of waste. But I am a fan of discovery. And I must admit this 600 million dollars is well spent. Perhaps it is the best use of 600 million dollars I’ve heard of in quite some time…considering how long this baby is going to be in space snapping data for humanity. The change…is that this is no longer a figment of our imagination.
N.A.S.A announced the first discovery of a planet that definitively orbits two stars. Kepler-16b. Just as George Lucas’ home for Luke Skywalker showed us nearly 30 years ago in a scene in Star Wars (SkyWalkers home ‘Tatooine’ had two suns orbiting his planet).
It was discovered by NASA’s Kepler telescope. A 600 million dollar hunk of N.A.S.A genius sent back information to a team led by SETI’s Laurance Doyle. Snap…snap and BAM!!! the discovery of Kepler-16b.
Kepler-16b isn’t a warm kind of place where you or I would grab our shades and throw on our shorts. Rather, it is a frigid un-habitable planet. Cool in the truest sense of the word.
According to N.A.S.A “the two stars twirl around each other every 41 days like figure skaters. The planet orbits in a circle around both of the stars every 229 days. The larger of the stars is about 69 percent of the mass of the sun, and the smaller is about 20 percent of the sun’s mass. The planet is about the mass of Saturn.”
Ok..too much information…I agree…but very cool none-the-less. The images and data that we have discovered in the last five years is mind boggling to say the least.
Grant it, 600 million dollars could feed a lot of people or be applied to cancer research. But someday sooner then we may be able to comprehend this earth is potentially going to need alternative food, energy or water sources. So technology like the Kepler telescope may put humanity one step closer to alternatives that we could need in the next couple of hundred years. You and I won’t need to worry about it…but our children’s children will.
So from this mans perspective it is money well spent.
One last N.A.S.A nerdy quote worth listening to:
“This discovery confirms a new class of planetary systems that could harbor life,” Kepler principal investigator William Borucki said. “Given that most stars in our galaxy are part of a binary system, this means the opportunities for life are much broader than if planets form only around single stars. This milestone discovery confirms a theory that scientists have had for decades but could not prove until now.”