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Scientists have discovered another exoplanet that could sustain life, according to NASA, and it’s close to Earth (at least in astronomical measurements).
Ross 128b, which is 11 light-years from the sun, may have surface temperatures that could sustain human life. Researchers announced the discovery in a study appearing in the science journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Radiation isn’t a huge issue for Ross 128b, because its star – Ross 128 – doesn’t emit powerful flares that bathe the planet in radiation. (That’s been an issue stopping scientists from saying many other exoplanets are habitable, such as Proxima b.) "This is the closest Earth-mass planet potentially in the habitable zone that orbits a quiet star,” says Xavier Bonfils, leader of the team that discovered Ross 128b. The team comprises members from t he Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble and the University of Grenoble Alpes in France.
There are several potential locations where water could exist on Ross 128b.
“Some models made by theorists say that a wet Earth-size planet with such irradiation would form high-altitude clouds. Those clouds would reflect back to space a large fraction of the incident light, hence preventing too much greenhouse heating. With those clouds, the surface would remain cool enough to allow liquid water at the surface. Not all models agree, though, and others predict this new planet is rather like Venus,” said Bonfils.
Technology that would allow astronomers to more closely examine the planet is still under development; three giant ground-based telescopes – the European Extremely Large Telescope, the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope – are all scheduled to be up and running by 2020, which could allow scientists to get a better look at Ross 128b.
What Do You Think?
Do you think there’s a planet out there that could sustain human life? Do you think we’ll ever reach one? I’d love to hear what you think about Ross 128b and other exoplanets, so please leave a comment on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.