We have now detected smaller ExoPlanets (planets around other stars) than ever before, for the first time bringing us to the range of rocky planets, rather than gas giants. Some of them orbit at the right distance from their stars to make life as we know it possible. The odds that we are not alone in the Universe have once more gone up!
The announcement came today both from NASA and the ESA, and reading the two different stories gives you the feeling that their group was the one that made the discovery, in a vacume (pun intended) with no other players.
Astronomy is based on a world-wide network of investigators and equipment, most of them unpaid amateurs, in constant touch with each other to verify their findings. While I consider this story to be major news, I am a bit disappointed in the way each of the two major, government-funded organizations responsible for launching the satellites that brought in the raw data play it up as if it was theirs alone. Just the fact that they released the story on the same day underscores how the astronomy community works. Now if only we could keep the government media flacks out of the loop… LOL