In the words of Frank Borman, retired Apollo 8 astronaut, “exploration is the essence of human spirit.” New Worlds Observer is an exploratory mission seeking to discover new planetary systems, some of which will hopefully harbor habitable terrestrial planets. Our aim is to identify new classes of planet that differ from those in our Solar System. Fitting theories of formation to observed distributions of dust and debris and the study of these new classes of planets will create the field of comparative terrestrial geography and geology.
We live in a time when all the corners of the Earth have been discovered and mapped in great detail. Few people alive remember firsthand the sense of excitement and high adventure that comes from the discovery of new lands. Yet no other endeavor resonates more with the imagination of the young, or carries more promise of the future.
Ultimately, we all wish to find that elusive place: the blue, watery planet with a shirt-sleeve environment that might eventually become a comfortable home. Certain knowledge of a habitable destination could drive future generations to innovate and find a way to cross the unimaginable distance to that New Earth.