28 Mar 2009
Astrophysicist , Alan Boss, member of the Science Working Group of NASA’s Kepler Mission, says "earth-like" planets are common and that the Kepler mission is likely to find hundreds of them.
The next step for NASA will be to build something that will not only find earth-like planets, but also find evidence of life on those planets.
Boss' personal feeling is that those planets are going to be inhabited by something. Not necessarily intelligent life, because those planets may be out of phase with us. We've only been around for a few hundred thousand years as human beings and have only been able to create radio waves for a hundred years or so.
But, he says, if you have a habitable world, an earth-like planet with water on its surface and its been sitting there for five, ten, fifteen billion years, while its sun is stably on its so-called main sequence and it gets hit by a comet every once in a while, there is the possibility that life, in some form, exists.
Boss says the comets in our solar system are coded with organic compounds, which comes from being irradiated by ultra-violet light. If you take a comet ice and hit it with UV light, you will soon end up with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are like benzine rings or even amino acids. Amino acids are the building block of sugars and proteins.
Once you start throwing this pre-biotic soup into the earth and let it sit there and cook for a billion or ten billion years, eventually something is going to crawl out of that stuff, says Boss.