According to a new study, there are at least 17 billion planets similarly sized to Earth in the Milky Way (the vast galaxy, not the tasty candy bar).
Ponder the implications about the potential existence of intelligent life elsewhere.
And before dismissing the notion that our species qualifies as intelligent life, marvel at the stunning elevation of mankind’s reach — and of scientific knowledge — since the Wright Brothers took flight on a windswept North Carolina barrier island in 1903.
In this 2013 case, the learned calculations are based on data collected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which was launched in 2009 to seek out other Earth-like planets — and is still conducting that search more than 42 million miles above.
Lead researcher Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics recently presented the uplifting results of the analysis at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif.
Despite justified excitement over his team’s findings, he warned that it is “simply too early” to know how many of those 17 billion (or more) planets have water — a key ingredient for life as we know it.
Oh well, our planet is in the Milky Way, too — and we have water.
As Prof. Fressin pointed out: “If you look up on a starry night, each star you’re looking at — almost each one of them — has a planetary system.”
And as we’re looking up in wonder at those 17 billion Milky Way planets in our size range, is somebody — or something — way out there looking back?