In 1986, superstars Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson won a Grammy for “Best Song of the Year” for “We are the World“, a single recorded to support the African charity USA for Africa (https://usaforafrica.org/) to provide food and relief aid to starving people in Africa, specifically Ethiopia where a famine raged. With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it is the eighth-bestselling physical single of all time, and it immediately generated 60 million dollars.

But 1986 also marked the 300th anniversary of one of the most popular science books of all time, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds. And a NASA mission just over the horizon may turn the sci-fi conversations about alien life from this classic pop-sci book into science fact.

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Census of planets found by NASA’s Kepler mission. From https://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-kepler-results-usher-in-a-new-era-of-astronomy.
The famous radius gap or valley for super-Earths. From https://sites.astro.caltech.edu/~fdai/images/fulton_gap.png.
The mass-radius relationship for various assumed planetary compositions (lines) and the masses and radii of several super-Earths. From Teske et al. (2021).
Illustration of transit spectroscopy. From https://wasp-planets.net/tag/transmission-spectroscopy/.
Simulated JWST spectra for a super-Earth, TRAPPIST-1 c. From Lustig-Yaeger+ (2019).