NASA announced yesterday that its Kepler space telescope has discovered a pair of potentially habitable exoplanets orbiting a star much like our sun. These planets are such good contenders for habitable life, that scientists have been speculating (kind of wildly, but still) that both of them could possibly contain alien lifeforms.
These worlds are certainly not the first potentially habitable planets that have been discovered, but this is the first time that two planets that could possibly have liquid surface water have been found orbiting the same star in the same solar system. “These are very exciting planets,” said Lisa Kaltenegger of Harvard University, who has been working with the NASA Kepler mission team. Another thing that makes these two planets significant is their size. Known as Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f, the two worlds are about 1 1/2 times the size of Earth, which leads researchers to believe they are most likely rocky.
It's fascinating to think of two planets out there in our Universe that could have life on them. Obviously, it’s impossible to know anything for sure, but we can't rule out the possibility. Kaltenegger said, “we don’t know if life evolves everywhere, but if it does, these two planets provide great candidates for life.” And Kepler team member Dimitar Sasselov (also of Harvard) said, “imagine looking through a telescope to see another world with life just a few million miles from your own, or having the capability to travel between them on a regular basis. I can’t think of a more powerful motivation to become a space-faring society.”
Becoming space travelers is certainly something to strive for and may be necessary for our continued survival as a species. Discoveries like this give humanity hope for a future beyond Earth.