Three new earth-sized (only slightly bigger) planets discovered by the Kepler mission–all apparently in the habitable zones of their planets! Two of them in the same star system, even (OK, OK, in Norse mythology we have nine worlds, but not everyone can be as cool as that). I know this is more of a Norse lit./book review website (with occasional cartoons), but running parallel to my science fiction reviews, I like to post about discoveries like this from time to time. And as I discuss in this post, I consider the “liberal arts” goal of expanding one’s mind to be well served by both studying ancient (or other) culture and beginning to grasp just how enormous and amazing this universe is. I don’t have time to give much more in the way of comments now, so I’ll just refer you to that earlier post for some of those ramblings (though one day I will try to pull them together into a more coherent presentation).
I am bummed that the planets are so far away–thousands of lightyears–but it is also really neat that we can gather data on such distant systems, and it gives us hope for similar discoveries closer to home. It sounds like at least a couple of these planets (the ones in Kepler 62) are likely covered in world-wide oceans, which is a neat parallel to some of the planets we see in science fiction, from Jane Yolen’s Commander Toad in Space to the planet of the Mon Calamari in Star Wars (also Kamino, right?). I think the planet around Alpha Centauri in one of Isaac Asimov’s sequels to his Foundation trilogy was mostly ocean, but I could be misremembering (but for another mention of that book, check out the post with the “ramblings” which I mentioned above).