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The first Earth-like planet outside the solar system will have been discovered by the end of the year, one of the world's leading astronomers said yesterday.
Professor Michel Mayor, the scientist in charge of the team who detected the first extrasolar planet in 1995, claimed that the chance of finding a planet that is habitable for humans is now imminent.
The astronomer, of Geneva University, said that recent technological progress that allows the observation of planets outside the solar system now makes the prospect of locating a planet of a similar make-up to Earth extremely likely
'We’ve entered a new phase in this search.'
He was speaking at a conference at the Royal Society to mark the anniversary of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, known as SETI.
Originally posted by Phage
By "Earth-like" they mean about the same size and about the right distance from its star to have a temperatures like Earth. Using these criteria, Venus and Mars could be considered "Earth-like".
Kepler, nor any other instruments now available, can determine the actual temperatures of these extra-solar planets, the composition of their atmosphere (or even if they have an atmosphere), or the presence of liquid water.
But he points out that such ground-based observations only work well for very large, hot planets. "They most certainly won't work for cooler, more Earth-like, and possibly life-bearing planets," he says. "That will continue to remain the province of dedicated space-borne instrumentation".