'Alien Earths' Will Be Investigated By Congress

A few weeks ago, we reported on the discovery of alien planets that very well may be habitable. These "alien Earths," as they are being called, are being looked into Thursday, May 9 by Congress, to determine how (or if) to proceed with various forms of surveys of these planets.

The three alien Earths or "super-Earths," as they're also being called, are: Kepler-62e, Kepler-62f and Kepler-69c and were discovered back in April. All three planets — caught sight of by the Kepler space telescope — could feasibly support life as we know it.

In a report on the three alien Earths investigation by Congress, Space.com suggests anyone who wishes to see the deliberations can do so via a live webcast that can be seen here starting at 10 AM EDT.

The discussion is called "Exoplanet Discoveries: Have We Found Other Earths?" and will be held by the space and research subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives' Science, Space and Technology Committee.

"The hearing will also assess the state of exoplanet surveying, characterization, and research; NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program; National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Astronomical Science; as well as coordination within the government and with external partners," the charter says.

Other questions about the alien Earths that will be addressed at the meeting include:

  • How is exoplanet research conducted and why is it important?
  • How do NASA and the NSF support exoplanet research?
  • What does future exoplanet research hope to discover?

The three persons who will be taking questions at the meeting include these experts:

  • NASA science chief John Grunsfeld
  • James Ulvestad, director of the Division of Astronomical Sciences at the NSF
  • Kepler team member Laurance Doyle, principal investigator of the Center for the Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

"The Kepler mission has been a big player in this ongoing exoplanet revolution," Space.com says, "detecting more than 2,700 planet candidates since its March 2009 launch. While just 132 of these candidates have been confirmed to date by follow-up observations, mission scientists expect that more than 90 percent will end up being the real deal."

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