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Friday, April 19, 2013

Meet the Keplers

In case you missed it: NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered two planets orbiting a distant star that might conceivably be habitable.  To be clear: No one is claiming actually to have discovered extraterrestrial life.  But two planets of an appropriate size and distance from their sun to conceivably host conditions amenable to Life As We Know It have been identified.

Named Kepler 62e and Kepler 62f, the planets have proven that NASA scientists suck at naming things.  The Keplers are about 1200 light years from earth, which means that, for all we know, the planets crashed into each other a thousand years ago.  I'm just saying, call ahead before you make the trip.

Also, the planets are both slightly larger than Earth.  This doesn't make them unlivable, but if you go there, you are likely to feel fat.  This made me wonder about all those "Star Trek" episodes.  I "get" that there is a universal translator, which explains why every green-skinned beauty understands Captain Kirk's English come-ons.  I accept that all "M-class" planets have breathable atmosphere.  But does EVERY planet have the same mass?!?  'Cause you never hear the away teams kvetching about feeling leaden, or see them skipping blithely about as if lighter than air (well, Sulu maybe, but that could be for any number of reasons).

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