Friday, October 1, 2010

Possible habitable planet found

Astronomers have found a possible habitable planet 20 light years from Earth.

Called Gliese 581g, the planet is the first rocky planet in another solar system in the "Goldilocks zone", the the range of distances from the star where the temperatures could allow liquid water could exist on the surface. Of the 492 extrasolar planets found so far by astronomers, this appears to be the first one with the right conditions for life as we know it to have a chance.

Even if this planet turns out not to have life, this is an important discovery that should fire imaginations and inspire astronomers to continue the search. It inspires me to remember that I am part of an amazing universe, and to put my daily challenges into context.

See here for a larger photo of the artist's conception of the planet.