It still astonishes me that for a large part of my life nobody knew if there was a single planet outside the solar system with little short-term prospect of resolving that and now we know of 4000+ planets.
What progress, what a universe!
The European Space Agency’s PLATO mission hunting for habitable exoplanets has been given the green light to move from blueprint into construction. It was previously selected in 2014 as part of the ESA’s Cosmic Vision Programme, but the launch date has been pushed out two years from 2024 to 2026. The goal is to detect Earth- …
That's one thing, but considering astronomy wasn't exactly invented yesterday, it totally blew my mind when I found out that at the time the Wright brothers were already flying and Einstein was bending space and time, they didn't even know other galaxies existed...
(That's a "me, centre of the universe" icon, right...? -->)
"It still astonishes me that for a large part of my life nobody knew if there was a single planet outside the solar system with little short-term prospect of resolving that and now we know of 4000+ planets."
^ This, totally.
And I hope this comes to pass before I pop my clogs:
"and could eventually lead to the detection of extra-terrestrial life.”
"Of course, it is possible that alien beings travel billions of miles to amuse themselves by planting crop circles in Wiltshire or frightening the daylights out of some poor guy in a pickup truck on a lonely road in Arizona (they must have teenagers, after all), but it does seem unlikely."
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They cruise around looking for planets that haven't made interstellar contact yet and buzz them, meaning that they find some isolated spot with very few people around, then land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one's going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennas on their head and making beep beep noises.
I went looking on the ESA site and I've found my mistake. The plan is to launch a *single spacecraft*, with twenty six individual telescopes on it (all pointing in slightly different directions). The plan is to launch on a Soyuz-Fregat2-1b from Kourou.
Somehow I'd got it into my head that this would be multiple craft, each with a single telescope on.
That looks like they are using both the transit method and the doppler method to look at each of these planets. I know that both methods are successful and have found each huge numbers of planets, but I wasn't aware that any individual planets had been found using both methods?
I would have thought that would cut down the useable number of targets a lot - does anyone know roughly what proportion of the known exoplanets have already been found using both methods?
Plus of course the difficulties of finding earth-size planets with the doppler method if the system also has Jupiter sise planets pulling the star a lot more.
Since transits only last a fraction of a day, all the stars must be monitored continuously, that is, their brightnesses must be measured at least once every few hours. The ability to continuously view the stars being monitored dictates that the field of view (FOV) must never be blocked at any time during the year. Therefore, to avoid the Sun the FOV must be out of the ecliptic plane. The secondary requirement is that the FOV have the largest possible number of stars. This leads to the selection of a region in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations of our Galaxy as shown.
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