03/06/2015

The Interstellar Tourist’s Guide to Exoplanets

17:27 minutes

With more than a thousand exoplanets now in our sights, PRI’s The Takeaway asks: “What would it be like to visit them?” Host John Hockenberry joins Ira to share some of the educated guesses that astronomers Sarah Ballard and Natalie Batalha have made about what it might be like to vacation on Kepler-438b or KOI 314.02. (You can hear all The Takeaway‘s stories from their week exploring exoplanets here.)

Plus, MIT exoplanet hunter Sara Seager weighs in on the question at the top of every interplanetary tourist’s mind: Is there life out there? In a new review article in Science Advances, Seager explores how tell-tale atmospheric gases could reveal life on exoplanets many light years away.

The “starshade” in the video above could one day improve space telescopes’ views of exoplanets, allowing scientists to better detect biosignature gases in the planets’ atmospheres.

Segment Guests

Sara Seager

Sara Seager is professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

John Hockenberry

John Hockenberry is host of PRI’s “The Takeaway” in New York, New York.

Meet the Producer

About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is co-host and producer of Undiscovered. She also plays the banjo.