NASA News Conference on Extra-Solar Discovery

At the website of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) we found this headline: NASA to Host News Conference on Discovery Beyond Our Solar System.

What’s going on? The news release says, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

NASA will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 22, to present new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Why all the suspense?

Details of these findings are embargoed by the journal Nature until 1 p.m.

Okay, we can wait a day. Then they say:

Limited seating is available in the NASA TV studio for media who would like to attend in person at the agency’s Headquarters at 300 E Street SW in Washington. Media unable to attend in person may ask questions by telephone. To attend in person or participate by phone, media must send an email with their name, affiliation and telephone number to Dwayne Brown at by noon Feb. 22. Media and the public also may ask questions during the briefing on Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA.

With all of those controls on who can attend, they’re giving the impression that this could be big news. But don’t get all excited, dear reader. The last time we wrote about one of these NASA news conferences, it turned out to be no big deal — see The NASA Europa Teleconference — Live.

Okay, on with the announcement:

The briefing participants are:

• Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington

• Michael Gillon, astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium

• Sean Carey, manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC, Pasadena, California

• Nikole Lewis, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore

• Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

The announcement continues:

A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about exoplanets will be held following the briefing at 3 p.m. with scientists available to answer questions in English and Spanish.

That’s nice, but how can we watch? They tell us:

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and updated scheduling information, visit: NASA TV.

Okay, we’re hooked. We’ll be watching tomorrow at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, 22 Feb. Stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “NASA News Conference on Extra-Solar Discovery

  1. Eddie Janssen

    After Proxima Centaurus it will be revealed that Sirius A en B share a planet just slightly out of a very peculiar Goldilock’s zone.
    You heard it here first folks!
    Ken Ham is not sleeping well tonight.

  2. The more surprising the announcement, the happier it will be for a creationist. For that means more there is to deny. The more there is to deny, the more need there is to have an authority for reassurance that everything is going to be OK.

  3. I’m not even going to think about how creationists are going to react to this, I’m just going to react to it. It’s really the best thing for my mental health, honestly, as science is amazing and I don’t want it taken from me.

  4. Invoice sent from home planet containing bill for panspermia?

  5. It’s always entertaining to see how (outrageously) creative creationists are when explaining away facts. Unfortunately many voters use the same distorted biblical lens.

    For what it’s worth, remember that back in 2012 NASA and Nature announced with great fanfare the discovery of arsenic-based life forms from Mono Lake. I don’t recall creationist reaction, but I’m sure they were ecstatic when the claim proved false. Hopefully, NASA/Nature learned a valuable lesson regarding extraordinary claims.

    I’m still hoping for the discovery of alien life during my lifetime.

  6. Right, Megalonyx. NASA has an article on it now: NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star. One excerpt:

    NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

    The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

    The creationists are freaking out.

  7. Michael Fugate

    What an interesting system, the outermost planet has an orbit of 20 days – much less than Mercury. That’s one way to increase lifespan – provided there is life!

  8. Google celebrates the announcement on its home page.

  9. Creationists won’t be upset. They’ll say that these planets don’t have life, which proves Earth is a “privileged planet” after all; and if one of them does have life, they’ll say that it, too, was intelligently designed by You-Know-Who, wink, wink.

  10. I don’t understand how Earth is a privileged planet for life, if (as the creationists tell us) cannot arise on Earth without special intervention by God (or some super-natural designer).
    After all, can’t a super-natural or omnipotent designer design life even for ordinary planets?
    I’d understand if we decided that Earth had got that privilege treatment, if life arose by natural processes.