Sunday, February 21, 2010
Remember this post from two months back? The ESA was looking at six candidates for launches in 2017 and 2018, from which two are to be chosen. A chart provided showed their expected cost to be:
The red line there is the cutoff line for the proposed maximum cost for one mission. I recommended that Spica and Plato be chosen. Now three have been eliminated so the remaining proposed missions look like this:
So my favourite of the six was selected, and the other (Spica) was not. Plato is definitely the most interesting mission as it pertains to extrasolar planets, the only field at the moment that is capable of changing our entire outlook on space due to the upcoming discovery of planets like ours. The article says that the final selection (one more will have to be eliminated) will happen next year, which is good news because by then we will certainly have found at least one planet of about our size. Last year we discovered 85 new planets, and that didn't even include Kepler's first discoveries which were announced early in 2010. Thanks to that we've already discovered 14 this year - at this rate we'll break 100 for the year.