The Quest for Other Worlds Like Earth
May 10 & 11
The centuries-old quest for other worlds like our Earth has been rejuvenated by the intense excitement surrounding the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars. The challenge now is to find terrestrial planets, especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water might exist on the surface of the planet. The Kepler mission, which launched in March 2009, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine the fraction of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets. To date, 61 Kepler planets have been confirmed and more than 2,300 planet candidates have been found. This talk will cover many of Kepler's discoveries, including several planets orbiting two stars, and will try to explain how Kepler's discoveries help define humanity's place in the universe.
Dr. Thomas Gautier, JPL