Billions of Earth-Like Planets in the Galaxy

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

This artist's conception shows the inner four planets of the Gliese 581 system and their host star, a red dwarf star only 20 light years away from Earth. (Lynette Cook)

A new analysis of data collected by NASA'S Kepler spacecraft shows that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable planets similar to the size of Earth in the galaxy. Like Earth, the planets should have just the right temperatures to support liquid water.

These findings come from new analysis of data collected by NASA's Kepler spacecraft.

Sara Seager, Professor of Planetary Science and Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discusses the possibility of life outside of Earth, and why it might not be such a far-flung sci-fi fantasy.

Guests:

Sara Seager

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja

Editors:

Gianna Palmer

Comments [3]

CAROLINE from NJ USA

It's just good to know that science has trumped religion; in that religions often teach that humanity is so unusual there can't be "others". Also, this business of extraterrestrial visits impacting our genome is pseudo-science and should be banished since it is often presented as if it is factual. It's not so important to know what sort of life there is, in my opinion, but just that there's a huge possibility for life arranged similar to earth's. There will always be a tendency to extrapolate, it's human nature. However it is much smarter to wait for discoveries to unfold by examination, not by imagination. Each has it's place, but a mixture leads to confusion.

Nov. 05 2013 01:25 PM
Jerrold Richards from Lyle, Washington

Wow, the franchise possibilites are enormous! I mean think of Subway alone.

However, politics is sure to intervene. The chances we are alone are about zilch, I would say. The scientific community is pretty much settled on the idea that if you have a planet in the goldilocks zone, with liquid water, and perhaps with the addition of complex molecules formed in interstellar space and brought in by comet and meteor impacts, life is gonna happen.

So we achieve FTL and a few other technological developments, zoom on out there with big grins on our faces to find, what? One possibility is a lot of No Trespassing signs. I recall a famous science fiction story in which humanity finally makes out into galactic civ, to be greeted with polite yawns. Nobody wants to buy anything we make, any of our military expansion efforts are put down gently but firmly. Finally somebody discovers a demand for honey, and over time Earth is transformed into an ecological paradise, the better to produce honey and take advantage of this market.

Nov. 05 2013 12:19 PM
Angel from Miami FL

On this planet there are flies that feed on tar. Bugs that are tolerant to radiation. Plants and animals that thrive alongside volcanic vents. It's possible some life might be so different that we might overlook one because it doesn't look like ours.

Nov. 05 2013 10:28 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.