Ever feel like you're all alone in this big, ol' universe? Well, cheer up, because NASA has just discovered two prime planet candidates that fulfill practically every necessary condition we're aware of to house life. And according to William Borucki, chief scientist for NASA's Kepler telescope, these two are the best bets we've found yet.
There was some excitement back in December over a potentially habitable planet in the Tau Ceti solar system, but its short orbit around its sun made the potential for life somewhat unlikely. But our potential new friends-to-be on Kepler-62-e and Kepler-62-f, sitting about 1,200 light years away, have all the right ingredients for nature's signature primoridial soup.
They both circle their star, an orange dwarf, in a relatively close orbit to one another — at least when compared to Earth and Mars. And according Borucki, Kepler-62-f enjoys a nice, toasty Hawaiian climate while it's more distant brother's temperature would be comparable to something like Alaska. And the researchers are generally hopeful. According to a co-author of the study, David Charbonneau of Harvard:
This is the first one where I'm thinking ‘Huh, Kepler-62-f really might have life on it. This is a very important barrier that's been crossed. Why wouldn't it have life?
And since the planets circle a star that's 2.5 billion years older than our own (which is only 5.5 billion years young), Borucki belives that, should life exist, that head start would mean a far more advanced civilisation than our own. So let's just hope they're looking for friends. [Washington Post]