Hubble to announce a major extrasolar planet discovery next week; Indian Chandrayaan-1 enters lunar orbit

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Let's hope the new planet looks like this.

Two nice pieces of news today:

Hubble to announce a major extrasolar planet discovery.
NASA will hold a Science Update to report on a significant discovery about planets orbiting other stars at 2:30 p.m. EST, Thursday, Nov. 13, in NASA's James E. Webb auditorium. This unique discovery, made by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advance Camera for Surveys instrument, also will be featured in the Nov. 14 issue of the journal Science.
What could it be? I have no idea and so far neither does anybody on's forums (but keep an eye on that thread because someone might be able to venture a pretty good guess), except that if it's a 'major' discovery then that probably means that it's exceptionally close in terms of proximity or else in terms of similarity to Earth. A discovery of another hot Jupiter just isn't all that interesting anymore. I hope it's not just another huge gas giant planet that strains the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf. That's interesting in theory, not so interesting in terms of exciting the average person without much interest in space.

Total number of extrasolar planets discovered at present: 322

The other piece of news is that India's Chandrayaan-1 craft is now in lunar orbit:

Chandrayaan 1, India's first deep space mission, successfully entered lunar orbit early Saturday after a circuitous two-and-a-half week journey from a seaside launch pad to the moon.

The car-sized spacecraft fired its liquid-fueled engine for 817 seconds to place Chandrayaan 1 in an oval-shaped parking orbit around the moon with a high point of 7,460 km and low point of 500 km. That orbit will eventually be lowered to a circular path about 100 km above the lunar surface.


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