Science & Technology

Why “hunting planet B” is an impossible task, but it is already changing our world.

Are we alone?

That’s the ultimate question, but it’s also an impossible task.

“We were able to find Sign Of life, but it is not the definitive proof we wanted when we started this journey. “

Professor Sara Seager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a pioneer of planetary scientists. The smallest light in the universe One of the intriguing new documentary protagonists of director Nathaniel Kahn, Planet B hunting..

This striking film, recently previewed at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, explores the scientific development of exoplanets (planets around other stars) and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). I will. This will happen in the context of the next launch. James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or “Webb”), Significantly delayed $ 10 Billion Space Telescope Released on October 31, 2021..

Exoplanets can’t go for a week without news. Appetizing similarities with the Earth, “Super Earth” A day that lasts forever Or discover the planets around the stars Source of alien signal In the movie contact information..

Planet B hunting It’s a human story. It is of thinkers, dreamers, and practitioners who dare to imagine what is on an exoplanet, which is defined as an exoplanet, and build machines to find the details needed to complete their entire career. Reveal the world.

This is a story about long-term dedication and collaborative efforts, primarily for the benefit of the next generation of scientists.It has an exciting connection with the world Omission to climate change..

astronomy? Really? It’s just a group of older white men, right?

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astronomy is Male dominates. in fact, Few areas have large gender imbalances.. However, the documentary suggests that it was a super-niche at the turn of the century, but not in the exoplanet sub-genre that has come to dominate astronomy in recent years.

An exoplanet atmospheric expert, Seger is helping to shape a new field of astronomy and hopes to use Webb to push the boundaries even further. One of its first tasks is to investigate the “super earth”. “These planets are two to three times as large as Earth and seem to be the most common type of planet in our galaxy,” says Seager. “We don’t know what they are made of, how they were formed, and why they are so many. Webb can observe their atmosphere very easily. I hope it helps tell us what the planet is made of. ”

Whether we are alone as a seed is another question that Webb has a hard time answering, Planet B hunting Reveal that Seager is not alone.

It reveals the cast of a woman who is a leader in exoplanet science. Natalie Batalha, Project Scientist Kepler mission It first revealed that our night sky was filled with more planets than stars, Jill Tarter, Former Director of SETI Research Center, Maggie Turnbull, Potentially Resident Planetary Experts of the Global Science Institute, and Amy Law, Webb system engineer.

Why did that happen? The first exoplanets were not identified until 1992, and in the new century, exploration of these worlds was largely avoided by mainstream astronomers. The glass ceiling cracked.

“In 2001 I attended a large astronomical conference with thousands of people, all speakers were like older men with white hair, but with regard to exoplanets, they have white hair. No one was old enough, “said Seger. “The field was so new that there were no established elderly people. It was open to the people who came in and there was no fixed culture of any kind.”

The science of exoplanets may have changed astronomy in unexpected ways long before we discovered Earth 2.0, but it may be time to check further expectations.

Webb is not going to find aliens. The 21-foot / 6.5-meter-diameter primary mirror consists of 18 gold-plated beryllium hexagonal mirror segments.

For starters, it’s not looking for the right place. “We’ve shifted the gear so that the entire field is focused on a small red dwarf. We’re trying to do something simple first,” Seager said. “The web has a chance to identify a habitable rocky world, but not around a star like the sun. The web is a frontier, but some of us don’t call it the ultimate frontier.”

Seger reserves it for her concept Star shade Works with the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. “Rome” scheduled to be released in 2025 Expected to find thousands of extrasolar planets..

Nevertheless, Webb’s success is absolutely important to the science of exoplanets. In fact, it is absolutely important not only for the future of exoplanet science, but also for the future of general big science.

Webb changes all Because it sees infrared rays. It will be able to look back in time and, decisively, more easily characterize the atmosphere of exoplanets.

Matt Mountain, a Webb telescope scientist and a member of the Webb Science Working Group since 2002, said: Planet B hunting.. “But in 20 years, we’ll bet that three of Webb’s top ten discoveries will take place on exoplanets.”

But Webb is more basic than that. “Webb is the way to do new things in astrophysics, because things are known to be darker and smaller. If you want to find life, you need a telescope that’s even bigger than Webb. Let’s do it, “said Mountain.

Webb sets the future direction for astronomy. Next-generation space telescopes must be at least as large as Webb, and at least as large as Webb.

However, this comes with risks. When released on October 31, everyone involved will be nervous and it will take weeks to deploy.

Why is Webb such a risk?

While the Hubble Space Telescope orbits the Earth from 550km Space Shuttle Astronauts Service 5 Times, Webb observes only the universe.From the position of Second Lagrange point (L2) It’s about 1 million miles / 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth, so it’s (probably) too far to fix in case of problems. Webb is also the first deployable space telescope. Its 18 mirror segments need to be mechanically deployed. It has to work — and it works for the first time.

What if not? “If Webb doesn’t work, you’ll lose a lot of confidence. You’ll be wondering if NASA should focus on other scientific disciplines, so this movie is so important,” said Mountain. I will. “This shows a group of enthusiastic people working hard to choose to do this very bold thing.”

As one of the film engineers says, “This is the test of my life.” “Many people are putting their entire career into this telescope. This is amazing what humans should do, but these efforts are not without risk,” says Mountain.

So Planet B hunting Communicated in a highly human way, Webb is an engineering miracle that is the result of decades of human effort, dedication, and collaboration by over 1,000 people.

“Science is a very collective effort, and we need villages to build big machines like telescopes and particle accelerators. We need a group of amazing people,” says Mountain. After all, Webb has been in the design stage for 25 years. “We need to admire the dedication of almost two generations of astronomers who have devoted themselves to this telescope.”

The film shows that the mountain visited Galileo Galilei’s house in Florence, stared at Jupiter, and discovered its satellite. But in many cases, despite the Nobel Prize being awarded to a single scientist, it is no longer how science works.

“The design of Webb incorporates the talent and dedication of the entire team and is the kind of challenge we all sought as engineers,” he said, standing in a particularly awe-inspiring section of the film. Webb’s chief engineer, Jon Arenberg, said. Large-scale deployment telescope under test. “It was an act of collective genius, and knowing that humanity could play a role in realizing Webb’s potential to see the universe in a whole new way made me an engineer. That’s why. I live for the chance to invent tomorrow. ”

And the science of exoplanets is Mainly about tomorrow. Webb and other telescopes help scientists make incredible discoveries, but they are just one step towards even greater discoveries in the future.Not in this generation First contact, No confirmation Extraterrestrial intelligence, No good intentions Earth 2.0.. That is because astronomers come.

The exploration of exoplanets and aliens reveals that it is a completely human story at its heart and a highly admirable story.Planet B hunting There is no conclusion. Finally, there are no hints of intellectual civilization, and it may never be. The film gives viewers a peek behind the curtain on how amazing missions like Webb are combined, how they are used to do science, and how talented people can make it happen. Let me do it.

It’s about devoted people who undertake impossible tasks they know they have to try.

“It’s like a sparkle on the horizon, and we can’t reach it completely,” Mountain said. “Webb gets there.”

I wish for a clear sky and wide eyes.

Why “hunting planet B” is an impossible task, but it is already changing our world.

https:///sites/jamiecartereurope/2021/04/02/why-the-hunt-for-planet-b-is-an-impossible-task-but-one-thats-already-changing-our-world/ Why “hunting planet B” is an impossible task, but it is already changing our world.

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