In early May 2016 the US Space Agency NASA announced the confirmation of 1284 candidate planets with the Kepler program. This is the largest batch of planets discovered or confirmed at once. Although there were 9 planets in the habitable zone that were said by some to be potentially habitable, 8 of the 9 had radii between 1.8 to 2.5 times that of earth which means they would probably be mini-neptunes rather than even super-earths and might have had thick layers of atmosphere that could make them unsuitable for life especially advanced life like humans or equivalent to large scale terrestrial plants and animals. However there was one planet in this batch Kepler 1229 b that is in the habitable zone of its star and has a radius of about 1.4 times that of Earth which means it is likely rocky and could have a suitable atmosphere and the current dividing line between planets that are likely rocky and those that likely have too thick an atmosphere to have an accessible solid surface is between 1.5 and 1.6 Earth radii. Kepler 1229 b is said to be around a red dwarf star. While its star is certainly small and fainter than our sun, it is debatable whether the star Kepler 1229 is a red dwarf or something a little bigger and brighter as the usual range of mass of red dwarf stars is between 0.1 and 0.5 solar masses and Kepler 1229 b has a mass of 0.54 solar masses. This means that the habitable zone is much farther out than for planets in the habitable zone of some other red dwarf stars where some other potentially habitable planets have years of 25 to 35 days or so and Kepler 1229 b has a year of about 87 days. This is about the same length of year as Mercury in our solar system that has a year of 88 days. The planet Kepler 1229 b is squarely in the habitable zone of its star although a little on the outer part of it but not as much as the similiar potentially habitable planet Kepler 186 f. Kepler 1229 b and its host star are about 770 light years from Earth which is fairly average for the Kepler planets but a long ways away even if we can eventually get the capability for interstellar travel. Kepler 1229 b would probably have a somewhat thicker atmosphere than Earth and likely higher gravity although the latter would depend on its mass and density which we don't know for sure yet. Although people and animals could probably survive there if it has a suitable atmosphere it would probably be more burdensome than on Earth because of higher gravity. As a Christian I think that especially if this planet does have liquid water and a somewhat suitable atmosphere it could likely host bacteria or even the equivalent of our plants and animals that would have been created by God I believe rather than evolved I don't think there is humanoid or other intelligent life there as there would be problems from a biblical view especially if they had sinned and how they would be restored to God through Jesus going there as their Saviour or His death and resurrection on this Earth offered for their salvation as well. Also we have heard, as far as I know, no indication of radio or other signals of intelligent life from there from the SETI programs which have the Kepler planets in range since they are in the northern skies. However it is possible this planet is habitable but not inhabited. Anyway although this and many of the potentially habitable Kepler planets would still be too far for the soon to be launched NASA James Webb telescope to examine from 2018 and some time after that, similiar planets will be in range to be examined by James Webb including to tell more about their atmosphere and whether they are still habitable when that is considered. So Kepler 1229 b certainly seems to be habitable but whether it is still habitable when other factors such as its atmosphere are better known and whether it is inhabited by any life we do not yet know. Even if some life is found around such potentially habitable planets as a biblical Christian I don't have a problem with some evolution minded people saying it only would support their position as life on other planets could also show more of the Creator God's power and wisdom and glory etc.
In a news conference in July 2015 NASA Kepler and related scientists announced the discovery of Kepler 452b calling it the most Earthlike planet yet. Keper 452b is about 1.6 times the diameter or Earth and would be a super-earth. Although it could be Earthlike and rocky with some liquid water, it could also start to have quite a thick atmosphere as 1.6 earth diameters is about where astronomers now put the dividing line between more rocky, earth-like superearths and more gaseous mini-Neptunes that wouldn't be very Earth-like. The mass of this planet is estimated at about 5 Earth masses but it has not been observed but just calculated with computer models of extra-solar planets. If the estimated mass of Kepler 452b of about 5 Earth masses is accurate it would have a surface greater of about twice that of Earth at sea-level which means that a person or anything else from Earth would weigh about twice as much on this planet as on the Earth around sea-level. Although this might take some adjustment and might especially at first be uncomfortable this would be like carrying one's own weight around wherever one goes but astronauts on rocket launches to space experience more than 2 gs or the gravity of Earth on people or things and they survive although it might not be comfortable and this is only temporary. If there are mountains on this planet the gravity would be less at higher elevations but the gravity would be less than 2 gs if it had a mass of less than 5 earth masses and therefore a smaller density. Because Kepler 452 and its planet are so far away from Earth at about 1400 light years its mass can't be determined with the radial velocity technique with current technology. About the only way the planet Kepler 452b could be calculated now or soon is if another planet is found in the Kepler data around the same star and the effects of the gravitational pull of the new planet on Kepler 452b can be measured by the timing measured when Kepler 452b transits or passes in front of the parent star Kepler 452. What makes Kepler 452b more Earth-like is that it is around a very similiar star as the sun of the G2 class and it has a similiar mass at about 5% larger than our sun and a brightness of around 10% greater than our sun but it also orbits in 385 days which is a little longer than Earth's orbit of 365 days so the light Kepler 452b gets from its parent star is quite similiar to what Earth gets from our sun. This planet is regarded as being near the inner edge of the star's habitable zone and so there could be significant volcanic activity and a possible starting of a greenhouse effect but these latter ideas are more speculation based on Kepler 452b being near the inner edge of the star's habitable zone. What this planet is actually like including whether it has plate techtonics etc. will also depend on its composition that is what elements and molecules it is made of. Most of the other claimed potentially habitable or Earth like planets are around red-dwarf stars that are less massive than our sun and these planets have to be considerably closer to their stars to be in the habitable zones which means they would likely be tidally locked having one face always facing their star and they would be subject to severe stellar flares compared to Kepler 452b which would be outside the limit of tidal locking and around a star like our sun that is not as volatile with stellar flares. What I and other people interested in extra-solar planets or scientists in this field are really looking for now are the launch of the NASA TESS mission in 2017 that will find closer transiting planets including some potentially habitable ones and the James Webb telescope to be launched in 2018 that will be able to also analyze the atmospheres of these stars to determine their composition and I think temperature that could better determine if these new super-earths are habitable or even inhabited by at least bacteria or plants etc. As a Bible believing Christian I believe there could be something like bacteria, or even plants or animals in other locations in space especially on potentially habitable planets but I doubt there would be intelligent mortal life as this intelligent life like humans would likely have a spirit that means that life is eternal and they would have to either not sin at all or somehow have Jesus' death on Earth count for their salvation or for Jesus to go and be born in their likeness either of which the Bible doesn't really mention anything clearly about so I think there is not mortal intelligent extraterrestrial life. Also the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has not found clear repeatable signals of intelligent life by radio or by optical signals even though scientists have searched for over 50 years since 1960 including with an initial search of Kepler 452b. If Kepler 452b is really habitable for humans or other physical life it could be visited by humans in our resurrection bodies in the Millennial Kingdom or by mortal humans in high tech space ships in the Millennial or Messianic Kingdom if God allows such technology and endeavors then but for now this star system if very much too far to be visited by either manned or robotic spaceships with current technology in any reasonable amount of time.
Due to the close basic ratio of the considered image of Kapteyn b and I think the rotation period of the parent star Kapteyn's star there is now significant doubt that Kapteyn b is an actually existing planet but the discounting of Kapteyn b has not been completely proven yet.
In December 2015 astronomers announced the discovery of the new potentially habitable planet Wolf 1061 c. One positive point about this planet is that it is very close, currently the closest potentially habitable planet, at about 14 light years from Earth and our solar system. This planet orbits Wolf 1061 also known as Gliese 628 that is a red dwarf star of only 0.25 solar masses which is quite light even for a red dwarf star. The orbital period or year of this planet is about 18 days and because this star is quite faint this puts Wolf 1061 c right in the middle of the habitable zone. The orbit is quite eccentric or oval but the orbit is completely in the habitable zone. The mass of the planet is just over 4 earth masses and therefore the planet is almost surely rocky and could probably be called a superearth. There is a possibility this planet is transiting in which case it would be an excellent candidate to be followed up for investigation of its atmosphere for the soon to be launched James Webb Space Telescope by NASA in 2018. The star Wolf 1061 is said to be quite a quiet red dwarf star so there wouldn't be too much risk to any life on the planet by stellar flares which are quite exteme for some red dwarf stars. If physical life exists beyond earth in the galaxy and universe, this planet would be a likely habitat for it of at least microbial life and perhaps something more such as the equivalent of plant and animal life but I doubt there would be intelligent life there because from a biblical Christian viewpoint if they had sinned against the Creator God they would have to be somehow redeemed or restored spiritually to God by Jesus Christ the Son of God to either count His death on the cross on earth as paying for their sins or for Jesus to incarnate as one of their race and die for their sins on their planet either of which the Bible doesn't really mention as happening clearly. If humans master physical interstellar travel such as warp drive then this planet, Wolf 1061 c, would be a good candidate as one of the first to be investigated perhaps in the Millennial Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ if He and God the Father allow this. This planet could also be investigated or visited by God's people, born again Christians of this age or believing Jews and Gentiles in the God of the Bible from the Old Testament times or the tribulation or Messianic Kingdom with resurrection bodies that will most likely be able to go much faster than the speed of light through a spiritual dimension. Anyway, this newly discovered planet Wolf 1061 c will be one of the most interesting ones to find further information on for further signs of habitability in the near future.
In July 2014 it was announced that the two potentially habitable planets Gliese 581 d and g were not actual planets but were measurements of the parent star Gliese 581's activity. This means these two planets are not potentially habitable planets but not planets that exist at all and so shouldn't be considered any more as realistic possibilities for any life or even as planets around other stars. However there are still some planets so far seen as real around the star Gliese 581 but none of these remaining ones are in the habitable zone around Gliese 581 so the search for potentially habitable planets will have to focus around other stars.
In January 2015 astronomers at the American Astronomical Society meeting announced some more confirmed planets from the Kepler project. These include 8 planets most likely in the habitable zone or zone where there would likely be liquid water on the surface of rocky planets with sufficient mass located in that zone. 2 of these planets would also be earth size or light superearth planets namely Kepler 438b and Kepler 442b. These planets are around stars smaller and less bright than our sun with radii of 0.52 and 0.598 solar radii. They would both be red dwarfs or K class stars which are the next more massive stars more similiar to our sun. Kepler 438b has a size or 1.12 earth radii and a year of about 35 earth days. It is near the inner edge of its star's habitable zone and gets about 40% more radiation than the earth does from our sun. This planet if probably the most earthlike planet discovered yet and the astronomer Abel Mendez of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory gives it an Earth Similiarily Index of 0.88 where 1.00 would be a perfect match for Earth. This planet is about 470 light years away. Kepler 442b is about 1.34 earth radii in size and has a year of about 112 earth days. It is about 1100 light years away. The planet is the colder part of the habitable zone than Earth getting about 2/3 the radiation from its sun as Earth does from our sun. This planet has an earth similiarily index of 0.85 which is still slightly higher than what was the record high holder of 0.84 for Gliese 667C c. It will be some time before other information even the masses of these planets can be determined so we can tell more about them and truly how habitable they are but we can consider them for now as the most promising potentially habitable or earthlike planets. Again as a Bible believing Christian I am open to the idea these planets could have microbes or even plants or animals but we would need to demonstrate that there is liquid water on their surfaces first but any life could be quite different than earth life. I doubt that their is intelligent mortal life there as they would probably then have spirits and the possibility they sinned against the Creator God and would need to be saved or restored to God which according to the Bible would mean that the Lord Jesus Christ's death on earth would have to count for paying for their sins and they would have to hear about this or Jesus would have to incarnate on their planets and die for their sins and rise again there both of which make the salvation story much more complicated as well as that this is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Eventually with other resurrection bodies of Christians or perhaps more high tech space ships that could go faster than light earthlings in the Millennial Kingdom could visit and maybe settle on these planets if they are indeed habitable.
In December 2014 a so far not confirmed potentially habitable planet was found around the red dwarf star Gliese 3293. This planet is around 8 to 9 earth masses and is likely a superearth but would not be habitable if it is instead a mini-neptune with a larger atmosphere. This planet has a year of about 48 days and an average distance of about 19 million miles from its parent star. This star system is about 59 light years from Earth. The planet is certainly in the middle of the habitable zone around its star for all its orbit although its orbit is quite eccentric or oval shaped with varying distance from its star. As the parent star is a red dwarf it is likely that the planet is tidally locked although other planets around this star could act to prevent that. The planet could also be subject to severe stellar flares or other radiation as this is common with many red dwarfs. If there isn't too extensive atmosphere with too much greenhouse warming there could certainly be some parts of this planet's surface that would be habitable and it could support liquid water although these things aren't known yet. There could also be some life there but again as a Christian on theological grounds I don't think there is intelligent life there but it is possible there could be less advanced life like plants or animals and especially microbes. This planet isn't too far away and could be reached by humans in reasonable time if we could develop manned or unmanned propulsion to get to a good portion of the speed of light or if we could ever get faster than light travel.
In late June 2014 it was reported on the Habitable Planet Laboratory of Abel Mendez and some other places that a new potentially habitable planet has been discovered. It is Gliese 832 c the second planet around the star Gliese 832. It is in the southern skies as well and is about 16 light years away which is quite close by interstellar considerations. This planet is about 5 earth masses and has a year of about 36 earth days which is still long enough to be in the habitable zone of its parent star where there could be liquid water on its surface since it orbits a red dwarf star that is about 45% the Mass of our sun and much fainter and somewhat smaller as well as cooler. This planet could well be tidally locked with one side always facing its star and the other side always facing away from it but that hasn't been proven yet. However if it has a significant atmosphere it could moderate the temperature so that there could be conditions suitable to life over a larger portion of its surface than just near the day night boundary. The James Webb space telescope now under construction and scheduled for launch in 2018 should be able to tell more about this and other nearby planets including superearths through examining their atmospheres. This planet is also in a somewhat oval or elliptical orbit so it could have extremes of temperature during its different seasons. Although by no means proven there could be not only bacteria but even the equivalent of plants and animals on this planet and if humans could get there they could probably survive although they might still have to wear space suits if the atmosphere is poisonous and greater gravity might also make it difficult. From a biblical Christian viewpoint, I don't think there is any intelligent mortal life there because of the complication of how God could use the Lord Jesus Christ to save people on a different planet of another unrelated race and the fact we haven't detected any signal from this planetary system before.
In June 2014 it was announced that astronomers had discovered a planet around the nearby star Kapteyn or Kapteyn's Star. This star is about 13 light years away in the southern skies and can be seen in amateur telescopes. The star is a red dwarf. The planet Kapteyn b has a year of about 49 days and is in the habitable zone of its parent star, in this case in the outer part of the habitable zone but there could still be liquid water on its surface. The planet has a mass of about 5 earth masses. Probably this planet is tidally locked around its parent star unless there are enough other planets with significant masses and close enough together that they could prevent tidal locking of this planet. If this planet is tidally locked this could reduce the habitability of most of its surface as it could mean that much of its surface it either too hot or too cold for liquid water and life unless it had a substantial enough oceans and atmosphere to keep its surface moderated and prevent such extremes of temperature. Astronomers say this star and its planet came from outside the local solar area but its supposed age is a problem for those who believe in evolution if it proves true that this planet is rocky or terrestrial as according to evolution such elements shouldn't be created as soon as the age they think this planet is. For creationists as I lean to we believe the planets would likely be created mostly as they are perhaps 6 to 10 thousand years ago and makes complete sense that they including this one would be rocky. Anyway although for biblical reasons I don't believe there is intelligent mortal extraterrestrial life I think there could be microbial or even something like our plant or animal life on other planets and this planet would be a prime candidate to have its atmosphere examined on or after 2018 when the James Webb space telescope is scheduled to be launched and should have this capability for nearby planets such as Kapteyn b. Search could be made for compounds like oxygen, methane and chlorophyl.
In April 2014 Nasa announced that analysis of Kepler data had turned up another possible habitable planet. This planet, the fifth found around the star Kepler 186, called Kepler 186 f if about 490 light years from earth which makes it much further away than some of the other potentially habitable planets. The most attractive feature of this planet is that it is only slightly larger and more massive than earth at about 10 % larger in diameter than earth and probably slightly more massive if it has roughly the same density as earth which is likely. This means this planet probably doesn't have an excessively heavy atmosphere of hydrogen and helium that astronomers now think starts to form more around planets at least 50 % in diameter larger than earth or perhaps about 3.5 to 4.0 earth masses. The size of this planet would also mean any future astronauts on this planet or existing life would probably not have to endure much greater gravity there than on earth. (Some of the larger potentially earthlike planets would have significantly greater mass and gravity than earth.) This planet has an orbital period of about 130 days which is much smaller than the 365 days for earth but this planet orbits a somewhat fainter brighter red dwarf star so at its distance it would receive less starlight than earth does and it would need a significant greenhouse effect to support liquid water on its surface and be habitable for life as we know it. More of the light in the visible spectrum for this planet is at the long wavelength or red end of the spectrum which some observers say means any plant like entities that use photosynthesis could be yellow or orange instead of green as on earth for their leaves. Although this planet is quite attractive to consider further because it is much closer in mass to earth, it is very far away and can't presently or in the near future be examined for much further information such as its mass and density or its atmospheric composition but there are many other red dwarf stars closer to earth that could have similiar planets and probably some will prove to have similiar mass planets in the habitable zone and be able to be more easily further examined in the near future. Again personally including my Christian views I think there could be not only bacteria but even plants or animals including on this planet but due to theological complications I don't think there are mortal spiritual beings like humans in space including on this planet. This is because there is the matter of sin against the same God of the universe as mentioned in the Bible who is holy as well as loving and the question of whether Jesus would have to incarnate there or somehow count his incarnation here and death for sins for their hypothetical race too. I believe including based on the Bible that plants have neither souls nor spirits but that animals have souls but not spirits and humans have souls and spirits and it is having a spirit that ensures humans are eternal and can consciously worship our Creator God or deny that worship to him.
On September 2, 2011 astronomers announced the discovery of the most habitable planet yet. Habitable should not be confused with inhabited since habitable means a planet or place is capable of supporting life while inhabited means a planet or place is known to host some type of life. Neither this planet, HD 85512 b, or the only other known habitable planet Gliese 581 d have provided any evidence yet that they are inhabited although that is still possible. HD 85512 b and its parent star HD 85512 also known as Gliese 370 are approximately 36 light years from earth and HD 85512 b has a year of about 58 days. Although this is quite short and even shorter than the year of the planet Mercury in our solar system that has a year of 88 days, the star HD 85512 is only about 70% of the mass of our sun and cooler and so would give signifantly less light and radiation than our sun. The other reason HD 85512 b is considered habitable or earthlike is that its mass is relatively close to earth's at about 3.6 earth masses. This means it is most likely a rocky or terrestrial planet like earth and the other planets of the inner part of our solar system and unlike the gas giants of our solar system or of the more massive planets of other stars. HD 85512 b also has a relatively circular orbit and not elliptical which means it wouldn't have extremes of weather due to its distance from its parent star. This would also be conducive to life including more advanced life and is similiar to earth. Astronmers have calculated that HD 85512 b would need about 50% cloud cover to be habitable and not have too extreme climate. This is apparently similiar to earth that is said to usually have about 60% cloud cover. The density of HD 85512 b is not yet known because this planet is not transiting its star and we do not yet have sensitive enough telescopes to image it directly and tell its size that way. Partly because it is not transiting and because we can't image it directly we also can't yet tell the composition of its atmosphere. If we could detect this is might help us determine how well it could support or even host life if it had substances like molecular oxygen, methane or chlorophyll all of which are charactistic products of life on earth although extraterrestrial life could be very different to life on earth even in the same environment. As a bible believing Christian I personally think there could be bacteria or even plants or animals on other worlds but not intelligent or humanoid life because the theological problems that brings such as why the Bible doesn't mention them more explicitly so we could at least pray for them and what would happen if they sinned and whether the Lord Jesus Christ would have to visit their world too to die for their sins or have his death on the cross and resurrection here on earth count for their sins too. There would also be the point that Jesus Christ appeared on earth in the form of a human although a perfect one born of a virgin and as the incarnation of God. This would also be a problem on some other world as any intelligent life would probably be much different from us than the diffence between our races and wouldn't have common descent other than being created by God. As far as humans sending space probes there it would probably take at least 150 years to reach there by unmanned probe such as by solar sail or nuclear rocket and be quite expensive. However this would provide the opportunity for close range photographs and monitoring by other equipment such as other electromagnetic radiation and a better measure of its gravity. Humans could theoretically go there with a trip taking about 150 years but there would be significant technical as well as psychological challenges to such as trip. It is still unknown what challenges such a crew would face if they tried to land on this planet. Although, also as a biblical Christian, I believe the UFOs or aliens people have convincingly witnessed are real that they are demonic. As far as I know no UFO or alien has indicated before that it is from this planet which would be more convincing that if we hear of one from this time on. Anyway it will be interesting to hear what further information is derived from this planet and how well it maintains its habitable status. I have however been disappointed by the general lack of media attention to this discovery in both the space and general media even both of them have given considerable coverage to the search for extrasolar planets especially habitable ones before and HD 85512 b is only the second confirmed habitable planet discovered. This planet and its parent star is in the constellation Vela at about 43 degrees south and can be seen in the northern hemisphere up to about 47 degrees north on earth nearer the southern horizon especially in April and part of March.
June 2013 after reevaluation of extrasolar planets including habitable ones it has been determined that HD 85512 is probably not habitable because it is past the inner edge of the habitable zone of its parent star and too hot for liquid water and life as we know it.
In early March 2014 scientists with the NASA Kepler mission announced 715 additional confirmed extrasolar planets or planets around other stars. Among these were many planets at or slightly above the mass of Earth which would be earth mass or superearth planets. However most of these were too close to their parent stars to support liquid water and life as we know it. However there were four planets around four different stars that could have liquid water on their surfaces and possibly some life. These are named Kepler 174 d, Kepler 283 c, Kepler 296 and Kepler 298 d. These 4 planets are all significantly larger and likely more massive than the earth from slightly less to slightly more than twice the diameter of Earth. They would all likely be approximately 5 to 10 Earth masses and so they might have too thick an atmosphere for life and be mini-Neptunes instead of super Earths but they will have to be examined further for the thickness of their atmosphere to determine this. All their parent stars are somewhat smaller, just over half the diameter, of the sun and somewhat cooler and could be considered heavier red dwarfs. They all have significantly shorter years than our Earth around our sun with their years being anywhere from 63 to almost 250 days compared to our year of 365 days. They are all in the habitable zone at least on an optimistic basis around their parent stars but only one, Kepler 174 d, is right in the middle of the habitable zone even by the stricter definition. Although there is still some possibility any or all these planets will be found to have liquid water on their surfaces and perhaps in other ways to be habitable or even be found to support life they would all have likely significantly more gravity on their surfaces than earth does which would make it difficult for humans or large scale animals from Earth to move around on their surfaces. Again as a Christian I am open to the idea that bacteria or even plant or animal life could be found on other planets and wouldn't have a problem with that theologically but I still would have problems if intelligent mortal life is found beyond earth for the reasons I have already stated that the Bible doesn't mention life like that clearly and what should be done for them if their race fell into sin and how would God save or restore their members to Himself.
In late June 2013 astronmers announced the discovery of about 3 more planets all superearths around the red dwarf star Gliese 667 C. This star is about 22 light year away in the constellation Scorpio in the southern hemisphere although it can be viewed from much of the developed area of the northern hemisphere as well. (The constellation can but even the star is quite faint and would require a good telescope to see.) All these new planets including the two habitable ones are between two to four times the mass of the earth so they would likely have solid surfaces. The discovery of these three extra planets means that all the possible stable orbits in the habitable zone of this star are occupied and five of the six planets of this star are inside what would be the orbit of Mercury around our sun. The years on these habitable planets would be 28 and 39 days but because the star Gliese 667 C is much less massive and far fainter than our sun it would be the right temperature for liquid water at their distances from their star. The sky would be an inspiring sight from any of these planets as they would see very bright in their sky the other two stars of these system as well as the brighter Gliese 667 C because they are closer to it. A main potential problem of these planets is that they could be tidally locked always facing the same side to their star since they are quite close to it. This could cause extremes of temperature on the surfaces of these planets and make them less habitable. However we will have to wait for better equipment to confirm this possibility when their rotation rates are determined. Now it can be said the two habitable planets have the right temperature for liquid water and quite possibly could have and would likely have significant atmospheres due to their mass and gravity. Although these habitable planets could support even plant or animal life and more likely bacterial life I personally as a Bible believing Christian believe humanoid life or intelligent life will be found there or on other planets because the Bible doesn't say anything definite about that and it would make it difficult to determine whether Jesus' death on the cross for sins of humans would apply to them or whether he would have to go to their planet and take on a body like they do to die for their sins to save anyone there who would believe on him. While people could and did eventually bring the gospel to other parts of the world such as distant parts of Asia, Africa the Americans and Oceania people there were still human beings and we all have the same first parents and we are all on the same planet. These things would not be true for any hypothetical alien race on a distant planet. (The fact that the SETI searches for electromagnetic signals from alien races has turned up nothing definite from other planets in space after more than 50 years of searching suggests from a scientific view that alien intelligent life is rare or non-existent.)
In April 2013 Nasa scientists announced the discovery of the Kepler 62 system which has five planets so far including two habitable planets. This stellar system is very far away at about 1200 light years so even with nuclear rockets or solar sails it would be quite difficult to visit in a reasonable time. Anyway the two habitable planets are at either end of the habitable zone with unfortunately neither one being near the centre of the habitable zone. Kepler 62 e is near the inner part of the habitable zone and would need some clouds to deflect some of the light from its parent star to keep its surface reasonably cool and habitable. It has a radius about 1.6 times that of earth and a year of 122 days. Since the star Kepler 62 is somewhat smaller and significantly less luminous than our sun at the distance of Kepler 62 e there could still be a habitable environment. Kepler 62 f is 1.4 times the radius of earth and has a year of 267 days and would be on the outer edge of its stars habitable zone and would need some greeenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide or perhaps a lot of water vapour which is also a greenhouse gas to keep its surface warm enough for liquid water and to be habitable. Habitable here might be a relative term as they would probably be both quite capable of supporting some kinds of earth bacteria but I don't know of they could support human astronauts or earthly animals. Anyway it could be a long time until we could tell because even though these planets are transiting their parent stars their great distance means it will be difficult for a long time for astronomers to gain strong enough data about their atmosphere to determine some of their component gases and get a better idea of their environment and habitability. Again as a bibical Christian I am open on the idea of bacteria or even plant or animal life beyond earth but see significant theological problems on the question of physical intelligent life beyond earth such as whether they would have sinned and how they could be saved such as whether God's Son Jesus Christ would have to incarnate there to die for the sins of their race or whether his death on earth could count for them.
For some time the Planetary Habitability Laboratory said the estimated temperature of Tau Ceti e which is the planet there that was claimed to be habitable was about 68 degrees Celsius which means it could be habitable to bacteria but not to large scale life like plants or animals. Good news is that after they received more date they now say the estimated temperature for that planet would be 3 to 17 degrees Celsius although I don't know if this accounts for clouds and a greenhouse effect. Such a temperature would allow for liquid water and even some plant or animal life if it occurs beyond earth. This would also make this planet much more habitable to eventual human explorers when interstellar space travel is mastered perhaps in the Millennial Kingdom if God allows that. I still don't think there is intelligent mortal life beyond earth including on Tau Ceti especially for complications with sin and the salvation process through God's Son the Lord Jesus Christ such as whether his death here would count in other places in the universe or whether he would have to die in the form of other races on other planets to hypothetically redeem them. I think the Bible would mention more about this if it is true.
The star Tau Ceti has been one of the best examined stars for extrasolar planets since it is one of the nearest sun-like stars and it is thought likely it could have a solar system similiar to ours. Until recently no planets around it had been found. It has also been a favourite site for science fiction and the Seti search as well as claimed messages from aliens but now planets have been found around it in reality. I think these messages from aliens and other UFO phenomena that can't otherwise be explained are manifestation of demons. This was due to a more efficient search technique that was able to better examine the signals coming from there and eliminate the noise or signals from the parent star or sources of signals other than the planets. This new technique shows promise for also finding more planets around stars that have already been examined for planets. Tau Ceti and its stellar sysem is almost 12 light years away and is in the constellation Cetus the whale that straddles the celestial equator but that is mostly in the southern skies but is visible from much of the northern hemisphere including during December as of this writing. The 5 planets discovered around Tau Ceti all have between 2 and 6 earth masses and can all be called superearths and likely have around 1 1/2 to 2 times the earth's diameter although this wasn't measured. Tau Ceti the star has about 80 % the diameter and mass of our sun. Tau Ceti has about 50% the luminosity of our sun. The most interesting planet is Tau Ceti e which is the fourth planet from Tau Ceti. It has a year of about 168 days but because Tau Ceti is considerably fainter than the sun this is in the middle of the habitable zone around Tau Ceti. This means that there could be liquid water and tolerable temperatures to life as we know it on this planet. This planet is 4 or a little more earth masses so it would not be a gas giant although there is some talk it could be a water world covered by water but this will require further examination. The claim that that the habitable planet is probably not rocky like earth is probably based on the fact that the star Tau Ceti is more lacking of elements heavier than helium than our sun. In astronomical language any element heavier than helium is termed a metal. All these planets still need to be confirmed including the habitable one but the discoverers were confident enough to submit it to a scientific journal and it has been accepted for publication. Also about this planet Tau Ceti e I believe any life will be confined to something like our bacteria or perhaps like our plants and animals but not intelligent life like humans. Two reasons for this are that I think God would have mentioned intelligent life if it exists in his word the holy Bible and there would be complications for their salvation if they sinned whether they would need a saviour there or if Jesus' death for sins on earth would could for them. In either case this makes things more complicated. The other reason is that from the beginning of Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Tau Ceti has been one of the most studied star systems but nothing definite has been heard. Astronomers also say that because Tau Ceti and its planets are so close astronomically speaking that in the near future they will be able to study and perhaps get some idea of the composition of the atmospheres of the planets there. This would help determine if the planet Tau Ceti e is habitable if it exists.
In November 2012 the discovery was announced of habitable planet by the HARPS project team in Chile, South America. This planet and its star in the constellation Pictor in the southern skies. There were already three other planets around this star which is an orange dwarf of K spectral type with I think about 60% of the brightness of our sun. These other planets are all super earths with 1 to 10 times the mass of earth but none of them would be habitable because they are too close to their parent star. The new planet was one of three additional planets announced around this star bringing to a total of six the number of planets in its stellar system. All these planets are closer to its sun than earth is to our sun with the farthest out being the newly discovered habitable one which has a year of about 200 earth days and is clearly in the region around its star where liquid water can exist. This planet in the habitable zone around HD 40307 has a mass about 7 times that of earth and should have a solid surface although it might have a considerable atmoshphere. It should be noted that the existence of this habitable planet is likely it still requires further confirmation of its existence. The star HD 40307 and its stellar system is about 43 light years from our solar system. An important thing that should make this planet more habitable is that it is far enough away from its parent star that the gravity of its parent star would slow down the rotation of the habitable planet to give it a very long day or have this planet tidally locked to the star always facing the star on one side. HD 40307 g would likely have a day somewhat like Earth or Mars in our solar system. This should mean that potentially most of the surface of this planet is habitable compared to perhaps only a ring of area on the day night boundary of habitable planets around red dwarf stars although this tidal locking of planets around the habitable zone of red dwarf stars hasn't been confirmed yet. We can't say for certain what if any life is on this new habitable planet but even if life is found there I don't think there is intelligent life because as I have said before I think God would have told us about it in His Word the Holy Bible before so we could at least pray for these hypothetical beings if they sinned and live in a fallen world as well even if it might be difficult to go there. There would also be the problem or whether God would have to send Jesus to did for their sins or have his death on earth count for them too. Also we haven't got any Seti signals from them but this one is far into the southern skies so can't easily be monitored from Seti projects in the northern hemisphere. Even if this planet doesn't have intelligent life as far as we know it could still support humans living there unless we get other information about that would rule this out such as the absence of water or a toxic atmoshpere.
In July 2012 Stephen Vogt and his team produced an analysis of the data for Gliese 581 g including the data used by the critical team lead by Michael Mayor. In this reanyalyzed data Stephen Vogt and his team claimed over 96 % support for the existence of Gliese 581 g. The main assumption that Stephen Vogt and his team made that differs from Michael Mayor and his team is that Stephen Vogt and his team assume that the planets orbiting Gliese 581 do so in almost circular orbits while Michael Mayor and his team assume they do so in more elliptical orbits (oval-like). Although either is possible there is at least greater probability that the planets around Gliese 581 orbit in circular orbits because they are relatively close to their parent star. The mass of Gliese 581 g is now thought to be about 2.2 earth masses and its diameter about 1.5 earth diameters. This would give it a lower density than earth but a very similiar surface gravity. It is also now thought to have a year of about 30 days. If it exists it would be the most habitable (earth-like) planet yet found with a habitability index of 0.92 where 1.0 is fully earth-like and habitable and 0.0 is completely unhabitable. It is still not known if this planet or other planets in the Gliese 581 system are tidally locked so they always have the same side facing their parent star. This is strongly suspected but not yet proven. Such a situation would be a detriment to their be conducive to life especially more advanced life such as plants or animals or being habitable for humans. Again as a Bible-believing Christian I do not believe that intelligent humanoid life will be found there because of problems how God's salvation through Jesus would apply to them. The Seti project has already listened to this system for artifical radio signals but has heard nothing that would seem be made by intelligent beings. It will be interesting to see if this planet can be confirmed or will ultimately be discounted in the near future.
In August 2012 astronomers announced the discovery of a marginally habitable planet Gliese 163 c. This planet is around the red dwarf star Gliese 163 about 50 light years away. This planet receives about 40 % more light from its star than the Earth does from the sun and the planet would probably have a surface temperature of about 60 degrees Celcius. While this would probably be too hot for humans except in space suits or for animals and most plants from earth, there are bacteria on earth called extremophiles that can stand this temperature and higher and even thrive in such an environment. This planet is about 7 earth masses and would be a super earth and have a diameter of perhaps twice that of earth and a somewhat greater gravity depending on its density. This planet is in the southern constellation Dorado. While this planet would be interesting in that it is somewhat earthlike and could have liquid water it would not be as interesting as some of the other so-called habitable planets that have been found that would have temperatures conducive to humans or earth-like large scale life. If technology is achieved in the future Gliese 163 c would be a fairly high priority planet to visit but not the highest level as some of the other habitable planets would be or possible future discovered even more earth-like planets.
For more information, comments, questions or advice contact Doug Currie at Contact Spirit and Truth Ministries
Extraterrestrial Life Part 1
Part 2 Extraterrestrial Life
Part 4 Extraterrestrial Life
Planetary Hability Laboratory
Ron Miller Space Art Extrasolar Planets
Extrasolar Encyclopedia Extrasolar Planet Web Site
Planet Quest Extrasolar Web Site