Daily Archives: April 30, 2012

The Luncheon Society/Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute on Kepler and the search for Earthlike-Exoplanets/Manhattan—PrimeHouse/March 22, 2012

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Have you ever looked up into the night sky and wondered if anybody was listening? What if they were?

We live in a universe where 760 extrasolar planets have been identified and perhaps billions are waiting to be found.  If life has been able to thrive on Earth, logic suggests that it might be plentiful elsewhere throughout the universe. We just have to find it.

We wonder what lies beyond the horizon. When man walked on the moon, we wept with Walter Cronkite and reflected with Eric Sevareid on the meaning of it all; we were no longer tethered to our home planet.  Thanks to a Voyager, Pioneer, and the upcoming New Horizons  spacecraft, we have transformed our knowledge of the outer planets in our own backyard.  But the biggest prize could belong to the plucky little Kepler Space Telescope, which is designed to discover earth-sized planets, far outside of our solar system.  This could be the next generation of Great Discovery.  

Jill Tarter’s TED® Award Speech. As scientific study reveals new answers, the odds favor a more vibrant cosmic neighborhood.  However, until the initial moment of contact occurs, the answer remains elusive—but tantalizing with promise.  


How many planets might support life? Indeed, what is required for life to exist? How does life start? How does it evolve, and what fabulous creatures can evolution produce? How often do intelligent creatures appear in the giant tapestry of life? Do we even know what life would be like elsewhere? These are the questions being addressed by the scientists at The SETI Institute.

How close are we?  Jill Tarter joined us for The Luncheon Society for a fourth gathering, this time in Manhattan at Prime House, where we had a distinguished group, including Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Dr. Jeremiah P. Ostriker. This luncheon was hosted by our good friend Jim Day, who once again proved to be a wonderful host.

There are more stars than there are grains on sands on all of our beaches. When Jill Tarter made her first presentation before The Luncheon Society in San Francisco back in 2004, there were only 85 extra solar planets. As of March 13, 2012, a total of 760 confirmed exoplanets are listed in the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia, including a few that were confirmations of controversial claims from the late 1980s. That count includes 609 planets in planetary systems and 100 planets within multiple planetary systems. A system has been discovered in which a planet orbits around two stars, which orbit around each other. As of February 2012, NASA’s Kepler mission had identified 2,321 unconfirmed planetary candidates associated with 1,790 host stars, based on the first sixteen months of data from the space-based telescope. It’s a veritable gold rush. Continue reading