Image: ESO/L. Calçada.
Hope springs eternal. NASA is gearing up to test launch an awesome new needle-shaped rocket even as the science journalist I saw interviewed on the BBC last night said it’s unlikely America will fly to the moon again in his lifetime (and he wasn’t old!). Two days ago the European Southern Observatory reported that it’s “High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher”—I just love the name “searcher” in this context (also radial, velocity, planet)—has been used to find evidence of thirty-two new planets:
One of these is surrounding the star Gliese 667 C, which belongs to a triple system. The 6 Earth-mass exoplanet circulates around its low-mass host star at a distance equal to only 1/20th of the Earth-Sun distance. The host star is a companion to two other low-mass stars, which are seen here in the distance.
A planet six times the size of Earth that is twenty times closer to its star. So cool. Mad props to L. Calçada, the artist who formed the impression excerpted here. I love your work, L. I wonder if L. anthropomorphises the Planet Searcher—that thought reminds me of Shirka, the ship computer in Ulysses 31. Dork #02180, over and out.