Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Dimitar Sasselov's talk at TED on Kepler and exoplanets seems to be generating a lot of excitement, due to a statement of his on how Kepler has turned up more small planets than large, giving a total of about 140 Earth-sized candidates. These are in the process of being confirmed but the story has gotten out that 140 planets have already been discovered, but a real discovery always comes with much more info than just "yeah, we found 140 of them"; it includes which stars the planets orbit, their orbital period, mass, estimated temperature, everything. So it's actually impossible to get too excited about this since no one is really sure about exactly what to get excited about, but watching the interest and discussion in the meantime is very interesting indeed.
Also, as the first commenter in the second link there mentions, it would be nice if this excitement prompts the Kepler team to release any extra information ahead of time. I'm still betting on 2010 as the year where we know of our first Earth-like planet. In general planet-hunting stats we are at 52 planets so far this year, compared to 85 confirmed in 2009.