Kepler Finds Closest Earth Analog So Far

From the AIAA Newsletter:

Kepler Finds Closest Earth Analog So Far

In its final segment for the evening, ABC World News (7/23, story 11, 1:15, Muir) broadcast that NASA announced that the Kepler space telescope discovered an exoplanet known as Kepler 452b, which may be “the closest thing yet to Earth.” Reporter David Wright said that this discovery is “the second big news in a week from NASA,” following last week’s Pluto flyby. Wright notes that although researchers are not certain, the planet, which is larger than Earth, could have liquid water and an atmosphere.

NBC Nightly News (7/23, story 7, 1:50, Holt) broadcast that John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, said that the discovery “makes me feel like there is a solar system like ours. There is another Earth out there.” The broadcast also notes that NASA “mesmerized” the public recently with images of Pluto.

The AP (7/24, Dunn) reports that Jon Jenkins of Ames Research Center said that the newly discovered planet, one of 500 added Thursday to Kepler’s catalog, “is the closest thing that we have to another place that somebody else might call home. … Today the Earth is a little less lonely because there’s a new kid on the block.” Grunsfeld added that he wanted to “emphasize” that the telescope could still find even better analogs to Earth. The article notes that Kepler 452b was just the first of 12 potential exoplanets with less than twice the radius of Earth in the new set “confirmed as a true planet, thanks to ground observations.”

According to the New York Times (7/24, Overbye, Subscription Publication), the exoplanet is “right on the edge between being rocky like Earth and being a fluffy gas ball like Neptune.” Jenkins likened Kepler 452b to “an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment. … It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent six billion years in the habitable zone of its star, longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

The Washington Post (7/23, Feltman) highlights the fact that scientists cannot be certain of a lot of the planet’s properties because of the distance and the way the planet was discovered. Meanwhile, Joseph Twicken, lead scientific programmer for the Kepler mission, said, “Continued investigation of the other candidates in this catalog and one final run of the Kepler science pipeline will help us find the smallest and coolest planets. Doing so will allow us to better gauge the prevalence of habitable worlds.”

USA Today (7/23, Watson), like other news coverage, reports that scientists are excited by the discovery even as they caution that little can be certain about the exoplanet’s features. US News & World Report (7/23, Risen) reports that the world “has long been waiting for” this news. Grunsfeld said that while all of these exoplanets are too far to travel to, they “give humanity something to shoot for.”

Also covering the story are the Wall Street Journal (7/24, Hotz, Subscription Publication), Los Angeles Times (7/23, Khan) “Science Now” website, TIME (7/23, Berenson), San Jose (CA) Mercury News (7/24, Krieger), New York Post (7/24, Steinbuch), CNN (7/23, Pearson), Bloomberg News (7/23, Roston), Reuters (7/23, Klotz), AFP (7/24), ABC News (7/23, Newcomb) website, another piece forNPR (7/23) “All Things Considered,” BBC News (7/23, Rincon), Wired (7/23, Zhang), NBC News (7/23, Wagstaff) website, Quartz (7/23, Epstein), and other media sources.

Scientists Do Not Have Concrete Definition For Planet Habitability. USA Today (7/23, Pager) reports that even with yesterday’s announcement, scientists have not settled on a single definition for habitability. Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division, said, “Briefly speaking, it’s a rocky planet at the distance where water can exist on the surface. … What people argue about is how far away from the star or how close to the star might the edges of that habitable zone might be and people think of all sorts of stranger combinations. … Scientists don’t have a crisp definition where they all agree on where the lines are that divide a habitable zone from the rest of the planetary system.”

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August 10 LEAF STEM Challenge- Teacher Workshop

LEAF STEM Challenge- Teacher Workshop
Teachers, save the date for our upcoming LEAF STEM Challenge teacher workshop (formerly the Electric Airplane Challenge)!

Scheduled for Monday, August 10, 2014 at Raisbeck Aviation High School, The Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Flight (LEAF) STEM Challenge is a standards-based, hands-on program for grades 6-12 that engages students in creating solutions to real-world problems.

Join us to participate in this curriculum module that will bring aerospace alive in your classroom! Participants will design, build and fly an electric tethered aircraft that will carry the most cargo.

Workshop registration is $50 and includes Washington state clock hours, continental breakfast, lunch, curriculum materials and airplane supplies for one adult participant.

Bring a colleague and join our Pacific Northwest AIAA for some aerospace fun! Register Now!

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Submit a Nomination for a PNWAIAA Award

2015 PNW AIAA Section

Engineer of the Year Awards 

The PNW Section will be recognizing outstanding members with the annual Engineer of the Year Awards.  This year’s categories are Industry Engineer (including Engineering Faculty), Young Engineer and STEM Educator.

Nominations forms are located on the Section’s website by clicking the links below.  Nominations (including self nominations) are due Saturday, 18 June 2015.

Awardees will be recognized at the annual PNWAIAA End of Year Banquet on Wednesday, 24 June 2015.  The banquet will be held at Salty’s in Seattle,WA.

If you have any questions and/or comments, please contact us at  We look forward to your nominations!


EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR (Nomination-PNW-AIAA_Educator-of-the-Year_2015)

YOUNG ENGINEER OF THE YEAR (Nomination-PNW-AIAA_Young-Engineer-of-the-Year_2015)

INDUSTRY ENGINEER OF THE YEAR (Nomination-PNW-AIAA_Industry-Engineer-of-the-Year_2015)



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Museum’s ‘Flight Team’ aims to fill age gap, fuel aerospace economy, and launch new leaders

Museum’s ‘Flight Team’ aims to fill age gap, fuel aerospace economy, and launch new leaders


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Save the Date: June 24 Year-End Banquet

The 2014-2015 PNW Section year will conclude with the annual banquet scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, 2015.

We are excited to announce that Dr. Gary Georgeson of The Boeing Company will present “An Inventor’s Journey:  What I Discovered Along the Way About Innovation.”

Dr. Georgeson has the distinction of being the most prolific inventor in the history of the Boeing Company, holding over 100 patents.

The banquet will be held at Salty’s Seafood Restaurant in Seattle, WA.  Registration details will be announced in May.  For more information, contact

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May 14th Distillery Tour and Tasting


Sound Spirits is Seattle’s first post-prohibition distillery and won Best Seattle Distillery in 2012. Steven Stone, the owner of Sound Spirits, grew up in a dry town in “middle of nowhere Texas” and is now an aerospace engineer working in flutter at Boeing.

Steven and the entire PNW AIAA Council hope you can join us for this fun evening! section council members! Our May PNW AIAA social event will be held at Sound Spirits, a local distillery in North Seattle, on Thursday, May 14th from 5-8 pm. Included in this event is a distillery tour, a tasting of spirits made at the distillery, and food.

Click here to sign up.

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Electric Airplane Challenge Fly-Off Capstone Registrations Now Open

PrimaryLogoWhat is the Electric Airplane Challenge?

The Electric Airplane Challenge is designed for students in grades 6-12.  Students teams are challenged to design, build, and fly an electric, tethered airplane that will carry the most cargo.

Where and when will the fly-off challenge be held?
This year’s competition will be held Saturday, April 25, 2015 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.

For more information about the program, visit the STEM section of our website:

Coaches and teams can get more information here:

Register teams online

Team coaches can register teams of up to four for $20.00 by going to our REGISTRATION PAGE.

Sign up as a volunteer

We need volunteers for the day of the event. If you’re interested in helping out, click here to find out more.

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Engineers Week—the only event of its kind—is a time to:

  • Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world
  • Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers
  • Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents
  • More than a week-long event, Engineers Week is a year-round commitment to making a difference.
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AIAA BoD Elections

Voting Information for 2015 AIAA Board of Directors Election

Attention AIAA Members, the 2015 AIAA Board of Directors election is now open, and will remain open until April 6, 2015 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

To view candidate information and cast your ballot online, visit You will be asked to log in using your AIAA username and password. Follow the online voting instructions.

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“Innovative Seattle” at the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)

MOHAIThe Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), located at the Naval Reserve Building in Lake Union Park, collects and preserves the diverse history of Seattle, the Puget Sound region and beyond. Highlighting innovation and education, MOHAI enriches lives by sharing the individual and collective stories of our communities.

You are invited to join other AIAA Members/Non-Members and colleagues in participating in a private talk about “Innovative Seattle”.

This event is open to your family and friends, so bring them along!

Cost: $14 per person

Parking and public transportation information
* Parking validation is available for visitors using the AGC parking lot on 1200 Westlake Ave N.



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