NASA’s announcement of planets outside our Solar System that could be like Earth have Arizona scientists excited about the possibilities for life on them.
NASA officials say they found seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star 40 light years from Earth. Three of them could be in a region where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water, a key element for life.
Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute astrobiologist David Grinspoon models the climates of planets that orbit a star other than our sun.
“It’s really an incredible discovery to learn of a relatively nearby system of planets where there are so many Earth-sized planets orbiting together, including several that seem to potentially be in the right zone of distance from the star that they might have the climate conditions conducive to life. That’s really exciting,” Grinspoon said.
NASA scientists say the discovery will open the door for future study of the potentially habitable planets, including the makeup of their atmospheres. The James Webb Space Telescope scheduled to launch in 2018 will provide greater detail for study.