I got dibs on a beachfront plot! I can't wait to sit in a cheaply constructed lawn chair and drink beer out of aluminum cans and cola out of plastic bottles and then drive to the space-corner store when I run out. Gliese 581-g is only 20 light years away. How long does that take, anyway?
The possibility of life on other planets has been a staple of science fiction for decades. Now that possibility has taken a step closer to reality as astronomers say they have found a planet orbiting a star a mere 20 light-years away that has the right conditions for life to exist.
Scientists are calling it the first "Goldilocks" planet, as its temperature seems to be just right to harbor life.
"The planet has to be the right distance from the star so it's not too hot and not too cold that liquid water can exist," says Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "And then the planet has to have the right surface gravity."
Bonus: Possible life forms to conquer and enslave (or kill us)!
"What we know is that this planet exists at the right distance for liquid water, and that it has the right amount of mass to hold onto an atmosphere and to protect its liquid water on the surface," he says. "And of course, any subsequent discussion about life is purely speculative."
But then he couldn't resist speculating: "That being said, on the Earth, anywhere you find liquid water you find life in abundance."