In my latest for Popular Science, I take a look at a newly discovered exoplanet and do a little math to see what life would be like there. I have published an excerpt below.
Scientists recently located two exoplanets orbiting in the Kepler-62 star system 1,200 light years from Earth. Though much further away than other exoplanets possibly conducive to life—Gliese 581g is only 20 light years from us–Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f are the smallest exoplanets the Kepler Mission has detected in their star’s “goldilocks zone.” And for habitability, size matters. Kepler-62e, in particular, has a radius only 60 percent larger than Earth’s, meaning that if it is a rocky planet like Earth it might have a similar mass. With a similar mass (meaning similar gravity) and an atmosphere, Kepler-62e could have life as we know it. In fact, Kepler-62e now tops the charts for potential habitable exoplanets.
Because of its promising position in the star system, Kepler-62e is a prime candidate for our continuing search for life. Something amazing could be living its deserts or oceans. But could you? What would a day be like for an Earthling on Kepler-62e?