On Feb. 12, I spent a day at the New Horizons Research Center, a large space museum that houses the New Horizons Mission’s history and collection of artifacts, to talk with four scientists about the team’s newest findings — all scientifically surprising. Here’s a quick-hit review of their revelations:
An Exoplanet Feels Like Life Is Rare
Two of the scientists said that if there was life — if there is other forms of life — there is certainly no more evidence for it than in our own planet.
“The Earth is the nearest example of life anywhere,” said Brian Mayron, a systems engineer for New Horizons. “For you to get life elsewhere, it must be very rare.”
But another spoke differently: “The Earth seems to be the exception, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Earth is the only place that has life,” said Prof. Hollis Johnson, a planetary scientist at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Scientists Are Falling in Love With Stellar Stars
Scientists are still very confused by the vast difference in brightness that their mission detected between certain stars and the brightness of the Sun. Astronomers are confident they know the reason for this difference, but they don’t really know exactly what causes it. “There is a whole new, albeit unlikely theory that the definition of a star is changing,” Prof. Anderson said. “Other than seeing another star at the edge of our imagination, we really have nothing better than this thought.”