I've spent the last few days in Seattle collaborating with Bruce Balick on a project to study how stars like the Sun die. While I was here I had the good fortune to see an excellent talk by Eliza Kempton of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Kempton's talk was on the study of exoplanet atmospheres.
It is a remarkable fact that we are now not only able to find planets orbiting other stars, but in some cases, we can also characterize the thin blankets of gas that surround them. These studies are still in their infancy but their promise is enormous. Hopefully, one day we will determine the presence of "biomarkers" in some of these exo-planet atmospheres - compounds that could only be present if the planet supports life.
So in honor of my head spinning with these possibilities I leave you with this nice overview of the Kepler mission. Kepler recently increased the number of (potential) exoplanets by almost a factor of 3.
Truly this is a remarkable moment to be alive.