There are 24 “superhabitable” alternatives to planet Earth, Astrobiology explains in a recently published report.
The team set off to look for planets where the conditions are, or perhaps, even more beneficial for life, contrary to the common practice of identifying planets almost identical to Earth. “We are so focused on finding a mirror image of Earth that we may overlook a planet that is even more well suited for life,” the project’s lead astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch said during an interview with VICE.
The team noted that the most lively part of our own planet, as well as others, are the tropical areas, so they embarked on a quest for even warmer and more humid planets roughly the same size as Earth. Some of the planets were allowed to be as large as 1.5 times our size, as the bigger surface area may provide more room for life to evolve and develop. One particular candidate measuring almost twice the size of Earth’s stood out among the 24 and is around 3,000 light-years away from us.
“With the next space telescopes coming up, we will get more information, so it is important to select some targets,” Schulze-Makuch explained to The Weather Channel. “We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life. However, we have to be careful to not get stuck looking for a second Earth, because there could be planets that might be more suitable for life than ours.”