NASA today reports the initial results of the Kepler mission, showing that there are potentially millions of habitable planets around stars in the vicinity of Earth. The resulting menagerie of planetary candidates reads like a Traveller or Spacemaster planet generation table – it includes planets bigger than Jupiter, one planet with the density of sytrofoam, and some planets whose moons may hold liquid water. There’s also surely a hat tip to Star Trek in the report:

It’s exploring a new part of phase space, a new part of the universe that could not be explored without this kind of precision, so it’s producing absolutely beautiful data

(my emphasis). Oh, those NASA nerds, how we love them[1].

Something about science fiction that I find continually fascinating is how much of it ceases to be fictitious with the passage of time.

(I think for this post I need to do a hat tip to Larvatus Prodeo, the Australian left-wing blog).

fn1: Or is this a real term? If so it’s surely been named after a Star Trek episode anyway.