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: NASA's Webb Telescope mirror tripod in action (Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

19 minutes ago

The exclusive club of explorers who have discovered a rare new species of life isn't restricted to globetrotters traveling to remote locations like the Amazon rainforests, Madagascar or the woodlands of the ...

New terahertz device could strengthen security

23 minutes ago

We are all familiar with the hassles that accompany air travel. We shuffle through long lines, remove our shoes, and carry liquids in regulation-sized tubes. And even after all the effort, we still wonder if these procedures ...

European space plane set for February launch

32 minutes ago

Europe's first-ever "space plane" will be launched on February 11 next year, rocket firm Arianespace said Friday after a three-month delay to fine-tune the mission flight plan.

Space station rarity: Two women on long-term crew

33 minutes ago

For the 21st-century spacewoman, gender is a subject often best ignored. After years of training for their first space mission, the last thing Samantha Cristoforetti and Elana Serova want to dwell on is the ...

Recommended for you

NASA's SDO shows moon transiting the Sun

21 minutes ago

On Nov. 22, 2014 from 5:29 to 6:04 p.m. EST., the moon partially obscured the view of the sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. This phenomenon, which is called a lunar transit, could only be seen from ...

NASA seeks comments on possible airship challenge

21 minutes ago

Airships aren't just powered balloon-like vehicles that hover above sporting events. Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are floating the idea that airships have potential ...

NASA's Webb Telescope mirror tripod in action (Video)

12 hours ago

Setting up NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's secondary mirror in space will require special arms that resemble a tripod. NASA recently demonstrated that test in a NASA cleanroom and it was documented in ...

Iridium flares captured in real time by astrophotographer

20 hours ago

There are so many fun sights to see in the sky that are pure astronomical magic. And then there are the spectacular human-created sights. One of those sights is watching satellites from the Iridium constellation ...

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.