My colleague Jeff Kluger notes that a team of European planet-hunters have found a promisingly Earth-like specimen, which they’ve named Gliese 581c. The money shot is as follows:
Like Earth, it orbits a comfortable distance from its sun; like Earth, it maintains a surface temperature somewhere between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Most importantly, like Earth, it could easily harbor surface water. In the biological arithmetic we know best, warmth and water often equal life.
Plus it’s only 20 light years away. Eminently colonisable! “On the treasure map of the universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X,” says Xavier Delfosse of Grenoble University. Yeah, right, Delfosse — X for Xavier. (What or who is a Gliese anyway?)
Apparently it huddles close to its parent star, which is a red dwarf, and it’s 5 times heavier than Earth. I guess all the colonists would end up looking kinda Jinxian.