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Earth 2.0? Billions Of Reasons Why It’s Possible

Forty billion planets like ours are out there. Like Earth. We’ll look at the latest news from space.

This artist's rendition provided by NASA shows Kepler-69c, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, located about 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Astronomers using NASA data calculate that in our galaxy alone there are at least 8.8 billion Earth-sized planets that are not too hot or not too cold circle stars that are just like our sun, according to a study published Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

This artist’s rendition provided by NASA shows Kepler-69c, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, located about 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Astronomers using NASA data calculate that in our galaxy alone there are at least 8.8 billion Earth-sized planets that are not too hot or not too cold circle stars that are just like our sun, according to a study published Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The news from space this week gets our attention:  There may be 40 billion Earth-like planets in our Milky Way galaxy.  Planets like Earth “relatively common,” say the researchers.    In the “Goldilocks” zone.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Forty billion chances for life to get started and evolve on Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars.  Wow.  Earth 2.0.  And we thought we were special.  Well, around here we are.  The closest near-Earth – 12 light years away.  And yet, just the idea of a single twin or sibling out there is amazing.  Up next On Point:  Maybe we are not alone.  Contemplating Earth 2.0.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Erik Petigura, doctoral candidate in astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley. Lead author of a three-year study on Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars, recently published in the National Academy of Science’s Proceedings journal.

Sara Seager, astrophysicist and planetary scientist, professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Author of “Exoplanets” and “Exoplanet Atmospheres: Physical Processes.” (@ProfSaraSeager)

David Kipping, exomoonologist, exoplanetologist, astronomer and Carl Sagan Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. (@david_kipping)

Tariq Malik, managing editor for Space.com. (@tariqjmalik)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Far-Off Planets Like the Earth Dot the Galaxy — “One out of every five sunlike stars in the galaxy has a planet the size of Earth circling it in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot, not too cold — where surface temperatures should be compatible with liquid water, according to a herculean three-year calculation based on data from the Kepler spacecraft by Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.”

USA Today: Earthshaking news: There may be other planets like ours — “In all, about 8.8 billion stars in our galaxy have planets that are nearly the size of Earth and also have a surface temperature conducive to the development of life. But many more stars (those not similar to our sun) also have planets where life could form, which is where the 40 billion-planet figure comes from.”

SPACE.com: Liftoff! India’s First Mars Probe Launches Toward the Red Planet — “With a thunderous roar, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission rocketed into space at 4:08 a.m. EST (0908 GMT) from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, where the local time will be 2:38 p.m. in the afternoon. An ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle launched the probe on its 300-day trek into orbit around the Red Planet.”

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