June 22, 2009

Planetary Recession

Planetary RecessionPlanetary Recession is defined as the decline of the rate at which new planets are discovered, which may be attributed to an economic recession--resulting in the lack of funds for planet-hunting efforts.
I whimsically coined "Planetary Recession" after I noticed that the number of exoplanet discoveries this year are so few compared to last year. As the graph shows, one would think that since we're already half-way of 2009 we should now have at least 30 new exoplanet discoveries, yet we only have a handful.
Also this concept comes after I learned that TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) was not selected by the NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) Program.
Considering the fact that there are billions of planets out there, and that planet-hunting (dare i call it Exoplanetology?) may become a recognized profession someday, one would think that there would be a positive rate or upward curve at which new exoplanet discoveries would trickle in every year.
It's just sad that a slowdown of exoplanet discoveries may be somehow related to the lack of funding due to economic recession. Thus coining the term "Planetary Recession" is an attempt to playfully soften the blow, or inject a sense of humor at least.
On the bright side, Kepler will soon bring a sudden surge of exoplanet count within two or three years from now. And hopefully it comes with the recovery of the economy of our planet as well.