Astronomers in Australia have emphasised the importance of seeking out other habitable planets.
In the future the world's population is likely to increase to such an extent that one planet just isn't going to be enough, at some point the human race is going to need to colonize other planets and when that happens we're going to need to know where to go. Great strides have been made in recent years in the field of planet hunting and while we now know that extrasolar planets can be found in many different solar systems it isn't clear whether any of these would be suitable places to live.
"Determining whether these planets are habitable has become the new holy grail of astronomy," said Dr Charley Lineweaver. "It's probably one of the biggest, most confusing, and important issues that planetary scientists are going to have to deal with in the next 10 to 20 years."
"Understanding habitability and using that knowledge to locate the nearest habitable planet may be crucial for our survival as a species, writes Dr Charley Lineweaver and PhD student Aditya Chopra of the Australian National University in the Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences."
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