By C. Michael Forsyth
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Good news! NASA scientists have uncovered evidence that there are scores of inhabitable planets within rocket-ship distance — and Earthmen may soon be able to build a vast galactic empire!
“Astronomers have cracked the Milky Way like a piñata, and planets are pouring out so fast they don’t know what to do with them all,” the prestigious New York Times announced triumphantly.
“Scientists operating NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler satellite reported that they had identified 1,235 possible planets orbiting other stars, tripling the number of known planets.”
Best of all, many of these “exoplanets” are believed to be what are dubbed Type M planets in Star Trek lingo — planets capable of sustaining human life!
“Fifty four of the exoplanets are in so-called habitable zones of stars, where temperatures should be moderate enough for liquid water,” the Times reports.
The discovery by Kepler, which was launched in 2009, opens the door to colonization of other planets, most likely led by the only superpower in the world with the necessary money and technical know-how — the United States.
“It boggles the mind,” Kepler’s team leader William Bourick of the Ames Research Center in Northern California told the paper excitedly.
Plans are already being drawn up by NASA for colonies on the closest of the planets. Though some planets may require domed colonies because they lack the proper atmosphere, others may have all the oxygen we need, in addition to drinkable water, fertile land and valuable natural resources.
“For the first time in human history we have a pool of rocky, habitable planets.” declared top MIT expert Sara Seager.
The sheer number of planets — all ripe for the picking — has astounded scientists, who once doubted there were any other Earth-like planets in the galaxy, or perhaps only a small handful.
“This is sending me back to the drawing board,” flabbergasted Kepler astronomer Jack Lissauer told the science mag Nature.
One top Yale astronomer strongly agreed, telling a Times reporter that the game-changing discovery “blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about expolanets”
Experts say this will go down as one of the key turning points in human history, right up there with our ape-like ancestors’ descent from the trees.
Geoffrey W. Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley declared that what he called the “extraordinary planet windfall” is a “moment that will be written in textbooks.”
If the stunning New York Times report is accurate — and given the paper’s solid reputation there’s no reason to believe it’s not — it means that contact with intelligent life on nearby worlds is almost inevitable.
A few scientists — including famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking — have expressed concern that our alien neighbors may soon invade Earth and have warned that we cease and desist beaming “Hi, here we are“ radio messages into space.
But the vast majority of experts contend that its far more likely that WE will be the conquerors and in a relatively short time will have dozens of colonies — perhaps as new U.S. states — under our belt.
That’s because most life forms on other planets are likely to be pre-industrial, agrarian folks who’ve barely developed muskets — if they’ve even invented the bow and arrow. They’ll be no match for an armada of American-made spaceships armed to the teeth with smart bombs, laser-guided missiles and tactical nukes, Defense Department planners by and large agree.
There’s a small possibility that the U.S. may instead establish peaceful relationship with the locals, with a strict no-interfering-with-the-natives rule like the inviolable (and routinely broken) “Prime Directive” in Star Trek. However, given America’s track record, that’s highly doubtful.
“Within the next 40 years or so you’ll be reading about indigenous E.T.s being rounded up and removed to special ‘protective’ areas on their planets,” predicted a Harvard historian. “If you don’t believe me, go ask a Mohican.”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth
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