MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Are we still alone? Set­ting the stage for the next in the quest to end cos­mic lone­li­ness, astronomers released a list on Mon­day of 4,034 objects they are 90 per­cent sure are plan­ets orbit­ing oth­er stars. The new list the final most reli­able result of a four-year cos­mic cen­sus of a tiny region of the Milky Way by NASA ’s Kepler space­craft . “The search for plan­ets is the search for life,” Natal­ie Batal­ha, a Kepler mis­sion sci­en­tist from NASA’s Ames Research Cen­ter. “These results will the basis for future search­es for life.” Extrap­o­lat­ed from one small patch to the entire sky, the data will NASA design a space tele­scope for the 2030s or there­abouts, big and pow­er­ful enough to dis­cern the images of plan­ets around oth­er stars. The cat­a­log — the eighth in the endeav­or — was released at a meet­ing of exo­plan­et astronomers here at the Ames Research Cen­ter that rep­re­sents a last hur­rah for the sur­vey mis­sion, will end on Sept. 30. The space tele­scope itself is doing fine, and it has embarked on a new pro­gram of short-term search­es called K2. Among oth­er things, […]

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