Astrobiology has just published a new report shortlisting 24 different planets which they call “superhabitable” alternatives to Earth.
Instead of the popular practice of finding planets almost identical to Earth, the team set off to look for ones where the conditions are — or maybe — even more beneficial for life. “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.
Noting that the tropical areas of our own planet happen to be the most lively parts as well, the team went in search of warmer and more humid planets roughly the same size as Earth, allowing some 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.”