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The race to find alien Earths

February 17, 2009.
by Alan Boyle

NASA is gearing up for a space race that's expected to point to the first truly Earthlike worlds beyond our solar system - and, like the race to put the first human on the moon, this marathon will take several years to run.

The roots of the race go back more than a decade, as astrophysicist Alan Boss explains in his new book, "The Crowded Universe: The Search for Living Planets." That's when pioneers in the planet-hunting field started detecting worlds around suns beyond our own.

The techniques used back then couldn't find other Earths in planetary systems like our own. The first method, pioneered by Polish astronomer Alexander Wolszczan at the Arecibo Observatory in 1991, could detect Earth-scale planets (and perhaps even the first known extrasolar dwarf planet) around radio pulsars - but those planets were thought to be burned-out cinders an

Added: Feb-18-2009 Occurred On: Feb-17-2009
By: wrano
Other, Arts and Entertainment
Tags: Extra-Solar Earth, Astronomy, Physics, Universe, Life?
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