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With news of new extrasolar planets being released nearly weekly, there is a general feeling that we are in the midst of a singular moment in cosmic discovery. And the news a few weeks ago of a planet that is about the same size as Earth has provided the sense that the discovery of a planet truly similar to Earth – one that could actually sustain life – is on the horizon.

But can we actually predict when the first Earth-like planet will be discovered? In a forthcoming paper in PLoS ONE (to be published October 4th), Greg Laughlin and I attempted to do this. This paper, A Scientometric Prediction of the Discovery of the First Potentially Habitable Planet with a Mass Similar to Earth, uses the properties of previously discovered exoplanets, including the year of their discovery, to estimate when the likeliest time of this potentially habitable planet will be discovered. (Greg writes about our paper here).

My sources tell me we have already detected a number of Earth-like planets, but we will have to wait until the data analysis is completed before any upcoming announcement is made.  To read the rest of the article, click here.
Category: Science