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An Alien Ocean Shore

Jim Bell

December 5, 2013

As a planetary scientist, just thinking about it gives me a thrill.

By the time our first spacecraft—probably robotic—head for the nearest stars, we’ll already have an enormous amount of information from ground-based and space based-telescopes about their panoply of planets.

Whether those stars harbor Hot Jupiters, Super Earths, or icy outer ocean worlds like those in our own solar system, we are certain to be dazzled by the diversity we encounter.

Wouldn't it be incredible if the first pictures beamed back of a distant Earthlike planet showed city lights stretching along an alien ocean shore? Unlikely, perhaps—but why not dream?


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