Earth-like planets may be found soon

Mar 24, 2008

U.S. experts say known planets outside of Earth's solar system, currently numbered at 277, could soon include smaller planets that are closer to Earth's size.

Most of the currently known "extrasolar" planets are gas giants similar to Jupiter and Saturn -- hundreds of times larger than Earth -- that are not believed to be capable of supporting life, but recent discoveries, including a planet with organic methane in its atmosphere, have raised hopes that more life-friendly plants may be found in the near future, The Washington Post reported Monday.

"This is an absolutely astounding time for this field," said Mark Swain of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, who reported the discovery of the methane-rich planet last week.

Sara Seager, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and expert on extrasolar planets, said technology advances could lead to finding Earth-like planets.

"We've already been able to detect planets with only five or 10 times the mass of the Earth," she said. "If the technology improves a bit, with another push, we'll find Earths."

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Explore further: Early Titan was a cold, hostile place for life

Related Stories

Little faith in carbon capture in the EU and USA

39 minutes ago

Pessimism prevails about the future of carbon capture and storage in both the USA and EU. This is despite the fine promises that it was precisely this technology that would save the oil and gas industry.

Study suggests there are only two tiger subspecies

49 minutes ago

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with affiliations to institutions in Germany, Denmark and the U.K. has concluded after extensive research, that there are really only two subspecies of tigers, as opposed ...

Making houses in Sweden with additive manufacturing

49 minutes ago

In a collaborative project worth SEK 35 million, researchers and external partners are together developing technology to make full-scale 3D prints of cellulos- based material. It is not a matter of small ...

Mankind's unprecedented transformation of Earth

59 minutes ago

Human beings are pushing the planet in an entirely new direction with revolutionary implications for its life, a new study by researchers at the University of Leicester has suggested.

Recommended for you

Early Titan was a cold, hostile place for life

13 hours ago

Titan is a mysterious orange-socked moon of Saturn that is exciting to astrobiologists because it has some of the same kinds of chemicals that were precursors to life on Earth. It also has a hydrological ...

Image: Spirals in Saturn's D Ring

14 hours ago

Although the D ring of Saturn is so thin that it's barely noticeable compared to the rest of the ring system, it still displays structures seen in other Saturnian rings. Here the spiral structures in the ...

Russian cosmonaut sets record for most time in space

14 hours ago

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who is the current commander of the International Space Station, has set a new record for most time spent in space, with a total of 803 days, Russian space agency said Tuesday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

zbarlici
5 / 5 (1) Mar 24, 2008
I have a feeling that upon confirmation of discovery of an earth-like planet, we will see a shift in resources and funding to theoretical propulsion systems and possible means of interstellar travel, and if so it will be worldwide. Methinks theres a very good chance china will actually come up with the final solution for interstellar travel. In that case the communists will be the first ones to colonize interstellar planets... now that`s some food for thought.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.