I was reading Boing Boing this morning and saw that an Earthlike planet may have been discovered just 20.5 light years away from our very home.
"We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid," explains Stéphane Udry, from the Geneva Observatory (Switzerland) and lead-author of the paper reporting the result. "Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth’s radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky – like our Earth – or fully covered with oceans," he adds.
"Liquid water is critical to life as we know it," avows Xavier Delfosse, a member of the team from Grenoble University (France). "Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial life. On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X."
This could be the most remarkable astronomical find of our lifetimes. I hope that science will be able to resolve some details about the planetary body soon. Maybe it will be found to hold water.
More information about the Gilese star system can be found here:
Gliese 581 – Wikipedia