New Earth-Like Planets, Plans to Discover Alien Life, and an Announcement!

I've got two things to share with you this week. First, there was big news this week in the hunt for Earth-like planets outside our solar system.

Kelper, the NASA space observatory, has discovered two Earth-like planets around a system named Kepler-62. Both planets appear to be "rocky" (as opposed to being gas giants) and have water on their surfaces. They are both within the habitable zone of their star as well, meaning that liquid water can be found on their surfaces making them strong candidates for finding life outside of Earth.

Image Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers think that Kepler 62f is mostly, if not entirely, dominated by a massive ocean which may or may not be frozen like Jupiter's moon Europa (thought to be a ball of ice around a liquid water center, and a place we might find life outside of Earth in our own solar system). The reason for the uncertainty is our inability, at present, to detect the composition of its atmosphere. Given its distance from its sun, the atmosphere will play a key role in what kind of planet Kepler 62f is.

Kepler 62e, being closer to the orange-golden star, is more likely to have liquid oceans on its surface. There are plans in the works to launch a new orbital observatory, NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), that will be able to see the chemical composition of the atmospheres of these worlds and others like them in 2017.

The TESS will be our first true window into determining if there is life as we know it on other planets outside the solar system by detecting what gasses are present on them. If we find the atmospheres have an Earth-like composition it makes the possibility for life as we understand it very high. If the TESS finds complex artificial molecules in the atmosphere of another world, like Freon, then we will finally have the answer to the question of whether or not we are alone in the galaxy.

Given that there have been nearly 3,000 Earth-like planets discovered so far, and the estimate of how many worlds in the galaxy are like our own stands at around 4.5 billion, I'd say it's only a matter of time before we discover another civilization like ours. Then the question will be, are they friendly, hostile, or indifferent?

And now for the second thing:

I've got a new short eBook story coming out this May called, The Golden Mean.

Will Paradise be Lost?

Beyond the edge of civilized space, Merte Algol has led the people of New Bimini from destitution under the thumb of the Extraterrestrial Mining Corporation to wealth and prosperity. When a message from the Confederation reveals that not only have they not been forgotten, but that they will be receiving a visitor from the most powerful being in human space, it puts everything they have achieved in jeopardy.

Can Merte save the colony? Or is their fragile paradise coming to an end?

Find out in The Golden Mean!
Coming in May of 2013!


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