Exoplanet Explorer V1.2.7: The Kepler-22b release
I awoke this morning to news of Kepler’s first confirmed “Earth-like” planet.
Curious, I opened up Exoplanet Explorer to find that there wasn’t enough data to draw the Kepler-22 system.
This had to be remedied, so I fired up my script that creates the planet data to see if anything had changed at the primary data source, the Exoplanet Encyclopaedia.
It had been updated, but there still wasn’t enough info map the system.
Off to Google then.
It took a while to find out that the NASA page was the only source of accurate information. All the other news sites are just parroting “Earth-like planet!”, leaving out most of the interesting stuff.
After creating a new exception to use NASA’s data instead of the Exoplanet Encyclopaedia or SIMBAD, I re-ran the data extract and started up Exoplanet Explorer to see what it looked like.
It wasn’t Earth-like at all!
In fact, my app decided it looked like Uranus.
The only Earth-like properties of Kepler-22b are its position in the habitable zone, and its parent G-type star.
The news services keep repeating that it’s only a couple of times larger than Earth, but they don’t say that the mass starts around 30 times the Earth’s mass and is possibly over 100 times the mass of our planet. We don’t know what it’s made of, but if it has an atmosphere, surface pressures will probably be huge and it’ll look like a version of Neptune or Uranus, or a big Venus.
NASA’s artistic interpretation also looks a bit like Uranus with white clouds, which makes me feel good about my app’s “automatic artist”.
Anyway, take a look for yourselves. On the advanced stats, it’s one of the four warm neptunian worlds.
Version 1.2.7 also includes a new feature for full version users. The advanced stats panels which shows the totals for the different planet and star types can be used to filter the data now. If you tap one of the planet or star icons, the window will close and the matching stars and planets will appear in the data scroller, which should make life a bit easier while I work on search upgrades that will appear in the next version.
There’s also some minor bug fixes and, if the app happens to crash when you enable “Detailed Planets”, it should restart with the option disabled, so you don’t get stuck. This issue is caused by a bug in the development tool which I have reported, but I can’t fix at the moment. It affects certain Tegra-2 tablets and it might be related to Android 3.2, but I don’t know for sure because only one user has contacted me directly. I know the other affected user posted a comment on Android Market, but I can’t do anything to help if users post there.
This update is probably going to be the last for this app for a little while. I need to finish designing the data file format so I can push out an updated planet database without having to make you download the whole app every time, and that means I’m going to have to put in a lot of new stuff to make sure I’ve not missed anything and that data file format is as complete as possible. This is going to be especially important next year as the number of planet candidates found by Kepler is now over 2,000, so we’ll probably start seeing loads of new planets added each month.
Some of them will actually be Earth like, unlike Kepler-22b.