According to Alan Boss, speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Chicago, there are one hundred billion trillion habitable planets in our visible portion of the universe. Put another way that’s 1020 habitable planets, or about 15 Billion habitable planets for each and every human being alive today. This single statement along the Kepler launch on March 5th, whose specific mission is to look for habitable planets, has pushed the search for earth like planets to the top of the news.
“If you have a habitable world and let it evolve for a few billion years then inevitably some sort of life will form on it,” said Dr Boss.
“It is sort of running an experiment in your refrigerator – turn it off and something will grow in there.
“It would be impossible to stop life growing on these habitable planets.”
We shall soon find out about the likelihood of earth like planets over the next four years as Kepler scans a portion of space called the Cygnus-Lyra region (which contains 100,000 target stars). This will be the first time we will have the ability to detect earth-sized planets orbiting within their habitable zone, where liquid water can exist on it’s surface. This will be accomplished by using an extremely sensitive 95 megapixel array of charged coupled devices (CCD).
Below is the area of the ski Kepler will look at.