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Sara Seager and the Search for Earth’s Twin

The planetary system around HD 10180

Air Date: 12/16/2014
Run Time: 29:42

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  • Sara Seager, Astrophysicist and Planetary Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Topics: FY2015 NASA Budget, mission status, Venus Express, Planetary Radio, Venus, extrasolar planets, James Webb Space Telescope, Bill Nye

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MIT planetary scientist and astrophysicist Sara Seager is on a quest. She wants to find a warm, wet exoplanet with signs of life. It could be Earth 2.0. Emily Lakdawalla says Europe’s Venus Express probe is probably out of fuel. Bill Nye celebrates one piece of the controversial “Cromnibus” funding bill passed by Congress. The holiday skies are full of planets, according to Bruce Betts in this week’s What’s Up.

Kepler-22b: Closer to Finding an Earth

NASA / Ames / JPL-Caltech

Kepler-22b: Closer to Finding an Earth
This artist's conception illustrates Kepler-22b, a planet known to comfortably circle in the habitable zone of a sun-like star. It is the first planet that NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed to orbit in a star's habitable zone - the region around a star where liquid water, a requirement for life on Earth, could persist. The planet is 2.4 times the size of Earth, making it the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star like our sun. Scientists do not yet know if the planet has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition. It's possible that the world would have clouds in its atmosphere, as depicted here in the artist's interpretation. Read more about the discovery here.

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Trivia Contest

This week's prize is the beautiful and informative Year in Space Desk and Wall Calendars.

This week's question:

There is a US penny on the Curiosity rover. What year was that penny minted?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at no later than Tuesday, December 23, at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What US Navy ship recovered the Orion capsule?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What relatively bright star in our sky is Pioneer 10 headed for, and will reach the vicinity of in about 2 million years?


Pioneer 10 should reach the vicinity of Aldebaran in 2 million years, give or take.


No trivia contest spoilers please!

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