Friday, January 13, 2006

New Planet Finding Instrument Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
This new instrument was able to detect a world orbiting a young star 100 light years away. This "Exoplanet Tracker" is relatively small and may help astronomers to locate worlds around other stars.

(Astrobiology Magazine) "In the last two decades, astronomers have searched about 3,000 stars for new planets," said Jian Ge, a professor of astronomy at the University of Florida.

"Our success with this new instrument shows that we will soon be able to search stars much more quickly and cheaply - perhaps as many as a couple of hundred thousand stars in the next two decades."

With hyperspace technology possibly several decades away, this Exoplanet tracker could provide humanity with a way to chart which stars are worth visiting and which ones to avoid.

(Photo Credit: Image from Astrobiology Magazine)

This new piece of equipment has several advantages over the former method of detecting worlds (i.e. The Doppler Effect). It's not only able to view multiple worlds at a time but also is more affordable than its predecessor.

(Astrobiology Magazine) At a development cost of about $200,000, the interferometer-equipped ET is also far cheaper than comparable spectrographs, which cost more than $1 million.

And at about 4 feet long, 2 feet wide and weighing about 150 pounds, it is lighter and smaller. The instrument is based on a concept first proposed in 1997 by Lawrence Livermore National Lab physicist David Erskine.

Although costly, this new piece of equipment should help reduce the amount of spending searching for "other Earths." For the human species to mature, they must not only be willing to leave their cradle, but their solar playground as well.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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