Are we alone? We may soon find out

Seeking aliens

Astronomer and President of the Royal Society Martin Rees said science had made enormous progress in the search for planets grouped around other distant stars.
“Now we know that most of the stars, like the sun, are likely to have planetary systems around them and we have every reason to suspect that many of them have planets that are rather like our earth,” Rees said.

He said great strides in space search techniques over the last decade had removed one of the big obstacles in finding other worlds, and possibly even complex life forms, in our Milky Way galaxy of 100 million stars. “Indeed, we live in very exciting times,” he said.

Hugely significant projects like the launch of NASA’s Kepler as well as the use of more advanced satellites have brought us closer to solving one of the universe’s greatest mysteries, Rees said.

“Kepler is the first one capable of detecting substantial numbers of planets no bigger than the earth. So we will know within two or three years which are earth-like and in earth-like orbits in the sense of being the right distance from their parent star.”

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