“Scientists at NASA have discovered a remarkable cluster of planets resembling the core of our own solar system, but better: seven Earth-size worlds, each potentially capable of hosting liquid water and therefore life, in orbit around a nearby star.
Preliminary data suggest all seven planets some 40 light-years from our sun are rocky, which would make them more similar to Earth than, say, Jupiter, a huge ball of gas. Rocky planets seem a better bet than gaseous worlds for offering sanctuary to life as we understand it.
Never before have astronomers found a star circled by so many Earth-like planets with relatively pleasant climates. Better yet, the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories peering at these new found worlds should be able to pick out chemical signals of any living organisms. Oxygen, for example, is a product of plants, while methane is made by certain microbes. ”