“To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations.” These lines, which inspired generations of nerds like myself, hold the promise of adventure and fantasy, of diplomatic solutions to conflict but also of raging phaser fights. However, starting 25 years ago, the field of exoplanets is progressively turning these lines into actual research statements for thousands of astronomers, physicists, geologist, and computer scientists accross the world. Alright, we may still be far from the “civilisations” part, but not so the research for new life.
In this talk, I will first give an overview of the our current knowledge of “strange new worlds”, focusing on the latest advances. I will show the huge diversity of the worlds waiting for us out there. Some of them would have been beyond our wildest dreams only a couple of decades ago, but are today a scientific fact. Then, I will present the steps we are taking in terms of instrumental developments, new observational techniques, and improving of data analysis methods, to start seeking out “new life” in the next five to ten years. Finally, I will leave the “new civilisations” research for a future talk at the NERDEARLA 2050 event.