“Earth-like planet found that may support life.” This is the big news in the science world today. I admit it sounds very exciting. But as I read a few articles about this new discovery I found myself very disapointed. I now seriously question what scientists would consider an “Earth-like” planet. Let me begin by saying how I would interpret a statement like “earth-like” planet.

1. Water
2. Earthlike temperatures (0-120 degrees farenheight)
3. Similar in size to the earth (so that gravity would not crush anything on it)

Now let me share some quotes about this new discovery.

“Besides having the right temperature, the discovery team says the new planet is probably full of liquid water which is critical to life. But that is based on theory about how planets form and not on any evidence, said Stephane Udry, the discovery team’s lead author and another Geneva astronomer. ”
CTV.ca

So in short they speculate it may have the right temperatures but have no evidence for water. Hmmm….. does this sound like a true discovery of an earth-like planet?

“Mayor said, but added that the planet’s diameter, atmospheric makeup and contents have yet to be confirmed.”
IHT

Mayor is a scientist that has discovered a number of planets since 1995. And he says that the planets diameter (size) and atmospheric makeup and contents have not been confirmed. So we are not certain of its size or if it has any water. Without knowing what is in the atmosphere it is impossible to determine any temperatures on the surface, or if it could even possibly have water on it. So two of the earth-like attributes are not even known. And the size is not even 100% confirmed at this point.

So how did they discover this new planet?

“Gliese 581 C was discovered by the European Southern Observatory’s telescope in La Silla, Chile, which has a special instrument that splits light to find wobbles in different wave lengths. The wobbles can reveal the existence of other worlds. ”
CTV.ca

Now this is how all planets are found, but it certainly means we are very limited on how to get a really good picture of what a planet is really like. Future research into this planet will hold far more valuable information, but at this time I believe the headlines are misleading and irresponsible.

So why all this buzz? Why is this planet being described as a “Earth-like planet”? Well, would anyone have read this headline? “Smallest planet outside of our solar system found” This would be a far more accurate headline, because really this is all they have confirmed, which is a great discovery, but the headlines today are very misleading.

So, we have found another planet and at this point in time, we know very little about it. Not nearly enough to consider it an “Earth-like” planet.

I just had to share my thoughts on this, it has been driving me crazy today.