Finally, we’ll have a spot for humanity to open a second franchise? Live Science writes:
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The first truly Earth-like alien planet is likely to be spotted next year, an epic discovery that would cause humanity to reassess its place in the universe. “I’m very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered next year,” said Abel Mendez, who runs the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.
Astronomers discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star in 1995. Since they, they’ve spotted more than 800 worlds beyond our own solar system, and many more candidates await confirmation by follow-up observations. A number of exoplanets found over the last few years share one or two key traits with our own world — such as size or inferred surface temperature — but they have yet to bag a bona fide “alien Earth.”
NASA’s prolific Kepler Space Telescope, for example, has flagged more than 2,300 potential planets since its March 2009 launch.