The first time you see Planet Earth from space, it’s stunning; when you’ve spent 534 days in space—more than any other American—it still is! On his most recent trip the International Space Station NASA astronaut Jeff Williams used an Ultra High Definition video camera that he pointed at the planet 250 miles below; here he shares some of those images, and talks about the beauty of the planet, the variety of things to see, and the value of sharing that perspective with everyone who can’t go to orbit in person.
I posted recently about Tabby’s Star, also known as the “Alien Megastructure Star”. In the SETI Institute seminar video below, Prof. Jason Wright of Penn State University reviews what’s known about the star and discusses the latest findings on the star in the context of searches for “Extraterrestrial Civilizations with Large Energy Supplies”.
From the caption:
In 1960 two seminal papers in SETI were published, providing two visions for SETI. Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison’s proposed detecting deliberate radio signals (“communication SETI”), while Freeman Dyson (“artifact SETI”), proposed detecting the inevitable effects of massive energy supplies and artifacts on their surroundings. While communication SETI has now had several career-long practitioners, artifact SETI has, until recently, not been a vibrant field of study.
The launch of the Kepler and WISE satellites have greatly renewed interest in the field, however, and the recent Breakthrough Listen Initiative has provided new motivation for finding good targets for communication SETI. Dr. Wright will discuss the progress of the Ĝ Search for Extraterrestrial Civilizations with Large Energy Supplies, including its justification and motivation, waste heat search strategy and first results, and the framework for a search for megastructures via transit light curves. The last of these led to the identification of KIC 8462852 (a.k.a. “Tabby’s Star”) as a candidate ETI host. This star, discovered by Boyajian and the Zooniverse Planet Hunters, exhibits several apparently unique and so-far unexplained photometric properties, and continues to confound natural explanation.
The idea is a bit far-fetched right now, but in 100 years or more, who knows? It might be possible, if our circumstances drive us to try it … and that’s the premise for the four-part comic miniseries Venus, written by my friend Rick Loverd and published by Boom! Studios.
So when Rick asked me to take a look at his comic about the crew of the Mayflower, a group of explorers who will be the first to attempt to live on the barely tamed surface of Venus, I was intrigued. Unsurprisingly to me, I liked it! It has a lot of comic-style derring-do coupled with a pretty firm basis in science, extrapolating from what we know today and seeing where it might take us.