Search for Life On New Planets

Are distant worlds habitable?


With increasing frequency, scientists are finding evidence that planets and moons throughout the universe could be hospitable to life. Nearly 1,800 planets orbiting stars other than the sun have been confirmed since 1995, including more than 700 in February alone. Scientists now conclude that the Milky Way galaxy alone contains a trillion planets, and many believe microbial life, if not intelligent life, exists beyond Earth. Still, finding extraterrestrial life poses enormous challenges. Adequate instruments for observation and sufficient scientific understanding don't yet exist to determine whether distant planets — or even potentially habitable moons in our own solar system — harbor life. Moreover, scientists are split on whether sending robots or humans to explore distant worlds is more effective. The biggest challenge for space science, ...

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