Is this the new Earth?
We often talk about other planets in the galaxy during our sky shows.
It is therefore exciting when a new Earth-like planet is discovered and announced, as NASA did overnight so that Australians awoke to the terrific news this morning.
But what does this mean?
Apart from the excitement factor, not much really, because we can never travel there.
We need to invent time travel to get to places so far away – it is about 1,400 light years away or so far that humans have no hope in reaching with current travel technology. It would involve timeframes of hundreds of thousands of human generations and that’s a time scale out of the question!
Why then even get excited?
Because this planet is said to have existed for about six billion years. There are many other similarities – it could be rocky, and while 60 per cent larger than Earth it orbits its star in a 385 day orbit. It also has the right temperature which could enable liquid water on the surface. It is thought that life may have had time and opportunity to evolve on such Earth-like planets.
And that's why we get excited - we like to think the human species is not alone in the galaxy or the universe.
For more information about this topic, go straight to the source of these discoveries here: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler/discoveries .
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle artist’s impression of the size of the new planet, right, to our familiar Earth, left.