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NASA likes to boast about its planet-hunting capabilities thanks to both the Kepler and the Hubble telescopes. But NASA’s not the only organization looking to identify new planets in the cosmos. The European Space Agency (ESA) conducts its own searches from across the pond, and they recently selected the PLATO (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) mission to join its 10-year Cosmic Vision programme.
In broad terms, the Cosmic Vision programme strives to push the foundation it has built in space science into a more contemporary, forward-thinking realm by foreseeing and addressing the challenges of the future. The overarching goals of the programme include identifying scientific challenges, prioritizing space research, figuring how how to marshal resources to achieve the maximum return on investment, maintaining Europe’s competitive technological status, and reinforcing ESA’s ability to advance space science.
PLATO, a space-based observatory, addresses these goals by focusing on the conditions necessary for planetary formation (link?) as well as how the Solar System formed, functions, and compares to other systems. Its particular specialty is identify Sun-Earth analogue systems using 34 distinct telescopes and cameras, PLATO will search for planets the same way Kepler does–by monitoring roughly a million stars and looking for the small but consistent reductions in brightness that signify a planet passing in front of them.
At the end of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Inmates,” Glenn and Tara (Alanna Masterson) found a little help against zombies with the appearance of Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa, and Eugene Porter. In this Sunday’s episode, “Claimed,” the new trio will continue to help Glenn and Tara survive, as the group is separated in the wilderness. While it’s unclear if Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene would be regulars on the TV show, its good to have new blood on the very popular AMC series.
From ScreenCrush.com, we’re getting a first look at the character Rosita Espinosa, played by Christian Serratos, in this Sunday’s episode. In the comic book, Rosita Espinosa is “kind, gentle, and [an] understanding woman, and has avoided confrontation or violence with the group,” but in the image below, she looks like she’s ready for action with her twin pistols at her side. It’s good to see that there’s time for sex appeal during the zombie apocalypse. It’s hard to say if the appearance of Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene will be exactly the same as it was in the comic book, but it’s likely that the trio will provide some high drama before the group is re-united again for the season finale of season four.
It has to be said, Will Smith is the new Tom Cruise. Here’s an example of an actor who was once a mighty box-office draw, but now his star has begun to dwindle. It seems that Tom Cruise is starring in almost every sci-fi action film these days, and now Will Smith is following suit. We saw it with Tom Cruise in Oblivion last year and Edge of Tomorrow this year, and now we’re seeing it with Will Smith, first with After Earth, and now with the sci-fi thriller Selling Time and possibly the new sci-fi film Brilliance.
According to The Wrap, Will Smith is in talks to star in a would-be franchise starter called Brilliance for Legendary Pictures and Universal. The science fiction film is set in a world where some people are born with heightened cognitive abilities. These people are called “brilliants,” and the story follows Nick Cooper, a federal agent with these extraordinary gifts, which makes him the very best at hunting terrorists around the world. It’s believed that Smith would play Cooper.
“Ooga-chaka ooga ooga ooga-chaka!” It’s clear that the biggest thing in science fiction movies this week was the release of the first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy. The first look at Marvel Studios’ newest brand of superhero premiered on the late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live this past Tuesday to millions and millions of viewers. Subsequently, the Internet has entered a strange love affair with Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon. While it’s unclear if the current excitement will last and make Guardians of the Galaxy a success at the box office, Marvel Studios is not the only ones enjoying the exposure.
According to Billboard, the song “Hooked on a Feeling,” from Swedish pop band Blue Swede, is experiencing the highest downloads for the pop song ever. While the song is only featured in the Guardians trailer for less than 30 seconds, it has been downloaded more than 2,000 times since the trailer’s release.
Harlan Ellison has a notoriously explosive relationship with Hollywood. His TV credits include work on dozens of series spanning from the ‘60s up through our own fledgling century, most of which seem to have gone off without a hitch. But when things go wrong, they tend to go wrong spectacularly, usually owing to the lunkheadedness of your average studio executive, Ellison’s disdain for compromise when it comes to his writing, and the author’s well-known penchant for vengeance. (His story, “The Man Who Was Heavily Into Revenge,” could describe quite a few notorious incidents from Ellison’s colorful history.) So it’s not surprising that the person who might finally succeed at bringing one of Ellison’s most-acclaimed stories — the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” — to the big screen is J. Michael Straczynski, Ellison’s friend and occasionally collaborator since the days of Babylon 5.
Deadline reports that Straczynski and his Studio JMS company have optioned the rights to Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin” with the aim of turning it into a film. But Ellison is notoriously protective of his work, so even though he’s chummy with JMS, he still had one requirement before he’d grant the option: Straczynski had to deliver a completed screenplay. JMS did exactly that, and apparently it was up to Ellison’s standards. Moreover, if the combination of Straczynski and Ellison isn’t enough to excite you, Deadline piles it on by pointing out that JMS plans to approach both Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro in his search for production partners and a director.