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(NASA/R. Hurt/T. Pyle)

NASA's Making Another Big Kepler Announcement So We've Wildly Speculated What It Might Be

SCIENCE AF STAFF
12 DEC 2017

We're huge supporters of NASA and the incredible work they do. But in recent years, it seems their press team has cottoned on to the trick of drumming up public interest in their discoveries by making announcements about the media conference which will have the actual announcement.

 

While there's usually something pretty cool being announced, this has the unintended side effect of forcing everyone's hand to cover the same news twice, and you know what guys, we're getting a little over it - because it's never aliens.

Even worse, they usually keep a tight lid on the findings and don't even hand out embargoed materials or let us read the study to let reporters prepare a well-researched article ahead of time.

You may have already heard that NASA's awesome exoplanet-hunting Kepler Mission has teamed up with Google's machine learning researchers and found something amazing - because you guessed it, there was an announcement about the announcement!

We'll be finding out what it is at 1pm EST on 14 December, and not a moment sooner - although judging by the fact there are no astrobiologists participating in the briefing, it's probably not aliens.

Of course, that hasn't stopped plenty of headlines online still having a slip of the fingers and tossing in "aliens" anyway, as if they didn't learn from the last time when it wasn't aliens.

So, in the general spirit of massive speculation, we thought we'd toss in our two cents as to what the world might learn on Thursday. And by that we mean we let our imaginations run wild and made a bunch of stuff up.

 

1. Tabby's Star is actually surrounded by a giant space octopus waving its tentacles

The "alien megastructure" star KIC 8462852 has been an exciting source of scientific speculation since it was discovered in 2015. The tentacle explanation would fit nicely.

2. NASA did discover aliens, sent them a message, and now they've seen it but they haven't replied

Awkward. And it would explain why there are no astrobiologists in the team.

3. Exoplanets are actually arranged in a cosmic game of Go, and Google's AlphaGo is still winning

That AI has already been likened to "an alien civilisation inventing its own mathematics" so… maybe?

4. Kepler discovered a dumpster fire exoplanet where all the trolls we've banned from our Facebook comment section end up

We wish. Also, don't send a probe over there, we don't want to hear from them again.

5. Kepler has discovered an exoplanet in the Goldilocks zone of a red dwarf star

It's literally a giant bowl of porridge cooled to just the right temperature after being cooked in the cosmic microwave background.

6. Using Kepler data, Google's AI has concluded we're all living in a marble-shaped Universe like at the end of Men In Black

Sorry about the spoiler, but that movie came out in 1997, you've had plenty of time to catch up.

7. Donald Trump will announce that he is declaring pre-emptive war on all 2,337 confirmed exoplanets Kepler has found so far

Maybe we should build a wall around Earth instead? Seems quicker?

8. Kepler stared into the most distant part of the Universe yet, found another telescope staring awkwardly back

NASA hasn't actually decided how to proceed and will be asking the public for ideas. Because the public never fails at this task.

9. NASA found out that Cassini didn't actually die

Guess what, the space probe is really mad at us now.

10. Pluto was so sick of being unappreciated, it left and joined another solar system

In hindsight, we probably should have stuck to calling it a planet, because we're about to be sucked into the void left behind.

11. Thanks to enhanced precision from Google, Kepler has actually found Nibiru

And the haters and the doubters out there should all be sorry now because apocalypse is coming. Oooops.

12. Kepler found an exoplanet made out of cheese and Google is embarking on Project Cheesecake

They're teaming up with press conference surprise guest Elon Musk to reveal he's bringing that planet over so we can make cheesecake for everyone.

13. Aliens

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you're curious about learning what the Kepler Mission actually found, here are the details about the announcement.

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