NZ Herald: Nasa close to answers on other Earths

Eloise Gibson of the NZ Herald reports that, by the end of the decade, a NASA scientists believes we may know how many Earthlike planets there are.

The scientist, Jack Lissauer, is currently involved with the Kepler space telescope project, which aims to identify how many planets capable of potentially supporting life there are, allowing humanity in turn to identify which should be probed for water and life.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“The California scientist said if Earthlike planets were only a few dozen stars away, they could be studied as early as the 2020s.

“”We have the technology pretty near along to [investigate] the nearest stars,” said Dr Lissauer, who will speak today at Massey University’s Auckland campus and at Auckland University tomorrow.

“But if such planets were hundreds of light years away, the search could take much longer.

“By 2019 the US$600 million ($820 million) project aims to be able to tell people how many Earthlike planets would be likely to be found in any slice of the universe – including the one closest to us.”