AstroTalk Episode December 15, 2016

Are We Alone? John Glenn

3:00pm - 3:45pm

The Star Wars series has thrilled us with intriguing worlds like the ice planet Toth, or even Luke Skywalker's desert planet of Tattooine. These planets have also intrigued scientists, as many scientists who have discovered actual worlds similar to Toth or Tattooine have now taken to nicknaming their exoplanet discoveries after the Star Wars worlds. Kepler 16-b is 200 light years away, and it is a Saturn-sized planet that orbits a star in the constellation Cygnus. This planet orbits in a double star system, so if a person were on Kepler 16-b, they would see a double sunset, just like Luke saw on his home planet of Tattooine. A person on Kepler 16-b would have 2 shadows, and would also see two suns set every day. Planet OGLE 2005-BLG-390L, discovered in 2006, resembles the ice planet Toth, featured on the second Star Wars movie, so scientists have nicknamed it Toth. Scientists also believe that desert worlds, ice worlds or water worlds exist in abundance in our galaxy, and they also believe some of these planets may harbour life. With the launch of The James Webb Space Telescope, the W-First Telescope, and also the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), scientists believe that they can prove whether or not the planets they find are ice worlds, water worlds or desert worlds.
Also, John Glenn, the first US astronaut sent into space, passed away last week. In 1962, Glenn launched into space aboard a Friendship 7 spacecraft. Glenn was also the oldest person to ever launch into space, aboard the space shuttle Discovery on October 29, 1998. At that time, Glenn was 77 years old. Glenn was also one of the original crew members for the Mercury series of launches. Glenn loved meeting with the public, and especially children, to talk about NASA and his career as an astronaut. John Glenn was 95.