An earth sized planet, within a habitable zone is soon to be announced according to sources.

That is fantastic news – I have been following the Kelper project for some years and this is the breakthrough that I – and many others – have been waiting for.

Kelper has found tons and tons of planets, of varying distances from stars and differing sizes, so why does this one matter?

For life as we know it to exist, there is a distance from a star (based on how much warmth it pushes out into its solar system) where it can happen. Within this habitable range around a star there needs to be a rocky planet for an atmosphere to grow up around. My understanding of this project is that  the scientific opinion is planets much larger than ours are likely to be gaseous in composition rather than rocky. So the closer to earth size the higher the probability of a rocky planet with the potential for an atmosphere, liquid water and life.

Humans have been pointing radio telescopes at different star systems for decades in the hope of hearing radio waves and therefore signs of intelligent life. Kelper will tell us if we have been pointing at the right ones so far – and certainly ensure we point our expensive radio telescopes at the star systems with the potential for life from now on.

Kelper has told us stars with planets are common in our galaxy, including near earth size in habitable zones  – and it is reasonably safe to extrapolate this across other galaxies across the universe. With so many planets, it is not hard to jump to the conclusion that somewhere life similar to us exists.

And that is what makes this announcement really exciting news.

If this earth size planet, around a dwarf star, is in our galactic neighbourhood. What does that mean for our space programmes? There is currently talk various national space programmes are looking back at the moon (where mankind haven’t been for almost half a century) as well as our near neighbour, (intelligent) lifeless Mars.

Would a nearby earth-like planet in a habitable zone spark a new interstellar space race?

What do you think?

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