ANU’s published their thoughts on the finding of “habitable planets” in other solar systems:
“Determining whether these planets are habitable has become the new holy grail of astronomy,” said planetary scientist Dr Charley Lineweaver, lead author of the study.
“The new-found abundance of planets, combined with the much larger range of inhabited terrestrial environments suggests that habitable planets are common. This increases the probability of finding some kind of extraterrestrial life,” he said.
Fellow researcher and PhD student Aditya Chopra said our best estimates of habitability come from the planet we know best: Earth.
“By comparing the inhabited and uninhabited regions of Earth, we can identify the most important factors that determine habitability. For terrestrial life, those factors are liquid water, a narrow range of temperature, and an energy source,” he said.
Dr Lineweaver added: “Habitability is not just a question of abiotic environmental conditions – the presence of life may be required to maintain the habitability of a planet over billions of years. The study of the habitability of other Earths is the major focus of astrobiology – and increasingly planetary science and astronomy.
So we’re only interested in aliens with similar physiologies to ourselves?
No planets with liquid methane or liquid sulfur just because the life there can’t be eaten or copulated with?