What Makes a Planet Livable? Five Things Scientists Look For

What Makes a Planet Livable? Five Things Scientists Look For

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Since 1995, astronomers have been hunting in earnest for possible havens for life outside the solar system. So far, they’ve detected more than 550 extrasolar planets, or exoplanets. Another 2,000-plus possible planets are waiting in the wings for confirmation. Researchers are working on ways to identify a “potentially Earth-like” planet – even if it isn’t an identical twin. One group, led by Washington State University astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, has proposed a way to rate any planet’s potential habitability and how similar some of its basic properties are to Earth’s. Based on the rating systems, published in a recent issue of the journal Astrobiology, there are five main clues the team looks for.

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