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(io9)   Remember all those "Earth-like" planets we keep discovering? Yea, about that   (io9.com) divider line 121
    More: Followup, planets, main sequence star, circular orbit, semantics, planetary habitability, astronomers, greenhouse effect, cloud cover  
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10934 clicks; posted to Geek » on 27 Dec 2012 at 10:14 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-27 11:40:31 PM

dennysgod: in layman's terms Jupiter-like and Earth-like. So it stands to reason that any rocky exo-planet would be called Earth-like since that what we call our rocky planets.


Except that's not what it means. They're using "Earth-like" to mean in the habitable zone, like you could live there. Only problem is, we know jack and/or shiat about what it's like save that it has AN atmosphere and falls in a certain temperature range.
 
2012-12-27 11:42:07 PM

dennysgod: ...those who would be confused by the term are too busy wonder when the new season of Honey BooBoo is starting or doesn't believe in exo-planets because they're not in the Bible.


Bingo. Or perhaps simply "this."

threadjackistan: - it is 15 Light Years Away

Question: So What? This isn't Star Trek. You aren't just going to 'pop by' and check out the neighbors. You couldn't even get a science probe there in a human lifetime let alone any sort of expedition. So what would be the practical use of any such find?

You could send a science probe there in 150-500 years transit time with ~1970s technology. Sure it would be expensive as hell and definitely contravene local arms limitation treaties, but it's not as unreachable as you imagine.


Indeed, we have the tech to get something up to ~0.02c. It would be quite expensive, though. On the bright side, if we decided to do it, we'd mostly take care of nuclear disarmament for the forseeable future...
 
2012-12-27 11:42:26 PM
All the articles I read were pretty clear that the found planet was a gas giant or whatever. I doubt the author just figured it out, but it's possible. That, or maybe he only recently became aware that other people thought otherwise.
 
2012-12-27 11:45:06 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Damn, I had my 3D printer all packed up, some energy bars and bottled water. I was sure that private space was going to get me, nay, the entire species, off this rock? There aren't hundreds of other mud balls out there within easy reach, like so many Walmarts packed with stuff?

You mean low earth orbit is *it* for the richest people on Earth, and the rest of us will just have to somehow survive on this rock?

Oh no!


Trollin' trollin'! This asshole won't stop trollin'!
 
2012-12-27 11:50:23 PM

Dingleberry Dickwad: Quantum Apostrophe: Dingleberry Dickwad: Oh no, life extension is not possible. You see, we don't live longer than before, we aren't born in hospitals, we don't vaccinate our young or use antibiotics, or have indoor plumbing, sanitation, clean tap water and hygiene.

Living longer than before? Ridiculous! All that stuff is magic!

/Do you seriously not realize how inane you sound?
//germ theory, cancer cures, etc...
///Terry Fox would be alive today. But we don't live longer than before, because it's magic
////When's the last time you knew someone who died of polio, scarlet fever, whooping cough, measles... Nope, magic. Space is where it's at.

You're right, we don't live longer than before. Sure we've gotten to where people who would have died from disease or illness get to survive longer, but we still don't really live longer than the extremely few who got to old age back in the day would have. So no, no magic immortality tech for you. The only difference between then and now is that more people make it to old age and that's it.


Yep. 115 years seems to be hard coded into us. Oldest verified human is Jiroemon Kimura,born 19 April 1897, making him just shy of 116 as of today.
 
2012-12-27 11:50:29 PM

OhioKnight: THANK YOU!!!
May I suggest that a less-hopeful but identical term would be "Venus-like"
or we could talk about discovering "Super-Venuses" (Veni???)


That would open up some possibilities for describing gas giants:

Today, scientists discovered a new gas giant, much like Uranus.....
 
2012-12-27 11:50:35 PM
I like the final note of the author.. the fact we're finding more and more planets out there with suns like ours, in multiplanet solar systems like ours, is very VERY farking cool. In a mere few hundred years, we've gone from believing the Earth was the center of the universe, to making things that can barely make out other fuzzy things in the sky, to sending farking robots that we control real-time (real-time enough, that is). I hope that planet we find pushes humanity a little more to really focus on creating technology to have us step out of the comfort zone of our little house in Sol to seeing, and maybe one day visiting, other systems. That alone is enough to get excited about.
 
2012-12-27 11:52:36 PM

DigitalCoffee: Ok, here's the Ten Million Dollar Question:

Let's assume the following:

- an Earth like planet IS discovered
- it IS in the HABITABLE ZONE
- it HAS Liquid Water
- it HAS Human Breathable Atmosphere
- Surface gravity is +/- 10% of Earth
- it HAS rudimentary plant/animal life
- it is 15 Light Years Away

Question:

So What? This isn't Star Trek. You aren't just going to 'pop by' and check out the neighbors. You couldn't even get a science probe there in a human lifetime let alone any sort of expedition. So what would be the practical use of any such find?


We'll know that life isn't all that special, that it can happen elsewhere. (And maybe that will shut those damned Creationists up.)
 
2012-12-28 12:06:13 AM

rhiannon: T-Boy: Why don't we just send some people to some of these planets and they can report back whether they are habitable

That's an excellent idea. Similar to sending chimps into space to test survivability. Start with Quantum Apostrophe, he's already packed.


I think we're to the point where it is in our best interests to send beings more intelligence than chimps, in which case QA is out of the running.
 
2012-12-28 12:08:35 AM

Spaced Cowboy: rhiannon: T-Boy: Why don't we just send some people to some of these planets and they can report back whether they are habitable

That's an excellent idea. Similar to sending chimps into space to test survivability. Start with Quantum Apostrophe, he's already packed.

I think we're to the point where it is in our best interests to send beings *with* more intelligence than chimps, in which case QA is out of the running.


FTFM
 
2012-12-28 12:15:31 AM
I didn't realize that there were people out there that thought that those planets were just like Earth (or so similar as to be ripe for us to move there). I too just took "Earth-like" planets to mean rocky planets with an atmosphere the the habitable zone of their stars.

It would be neat to discover a planet compatible with human life and possibly a planet with life (at least simple if not creatures of higher intelligence)... but we haven't come remotely close to discovering anything of the sort.

Ed Grubermann: We'll know that life isn't all that special, that it can happen elsewhere. (And maybe that will shut those damned Creationists up.)


Well... I would still say life is still special if it exists elsewhere, just not supernatural. However, I too would like creationists to stop pretending. I don't think they're capable of escaping their myths. I'm fairly certain that their brains are hardwired to resist with violent enthusiasm any attempt to enlighten them. It seems to be their way.
 
2012-12-28 12:16:26 AM

Surool: I've always assumed "earth-like" meant the planets were somewhat roundish... since the description of "earth-like" was invariably followed by things like "eight times Earth's mass, three times Earth's size with a surface temperature of 400º".

That exact information was included in each of the articles, so I don't know how anyone how actually read** them would be fooled.


**Basically, it just proves people don't read the articles


I'd be far more impressed with a planet that isn't round.
 
2012-12-28 12:18:24 AM

DigitalCoffee: Ok, here's the Ten Million Dollar Question:

Let's assume the following:

- an Earth like planet IS discovered
- it IS in the HABITABLE ZONE
- it HAS Liquid Water
- it HAS Human Breathable Atmosphere
- Surface gravity is +/- 10% of Earth
- it HAS rudimentary plant/animal life
- it is 15 Light Years Away

Question:

So What? This isn't Star Trek. You aren't just going to 'pop by' and check out the neighbors. You couldn't even get a science probe there in a human lifetime let alone any sort of expedition. So what would be the practical use of any such find?

/N = RfpneflfifcL


We should strive to, at all costs, avoid learning anything that is not immediately actionable.

Accidents happen, we can't succeed 100% in that, but all this deliberate learning for no reason makes me sick.
 
2012-12-28 12:19:09 AM

doglover: You mean science journalism is pandering bullshiat? Ya don't say.


You know what makes those telescopes work? Funding makes those telescopes work.

No bucks, no Buck Rodgers.
 
2012-12-28 12:23:45 AM

Quantum Apostrophe: 3D printer


Did a 3D printer rape and murder your entire family or what?
 
2012-12-28 12:29:20 AM
On the plus side, this could be the Avatar planet for all we know. How the hell could you tell?


graphics8.nytimes.com
 
2012-12-28 12:33:51 AM

fusillade762: Quantum Apostrophe: 3D printer

Did a 3D printer rape and murder your entire family or what?


imageshack.us

Hmmmm...
 
2012-12-28 12:37:05 AM

fusillade762: Quantum Apostrophe: 3D printer

Did a 3D printer rape and murder your entire family or what?


It did, and after that it gave him Space AIDS.
 
2012-12-28 01:41:26 AM

Farker Soze: fusillade762: Quantum Apostrophe: 3D printer

Did a 3D printer rape and murder your entire family or what?

It did, and after that it gave him Space AIDS.


Ouch. That's possibly the only spaceborne STD worse that space herpes.
 
2012-12-28 01:45:31 AM
I don't follow astronomy news that much.  If someone told me a new Earth-like planet had been found, that would mean to me that it is a planet that is like Earth.  Similar climate, similar geological history and elemental makeup, obviously teeming with life.  If it's a frozen rock, a reasonable comparison from a human perspective would be Pluto-like.  If it's covered in poisonous gasses or too hot for Earth-based life forms, it would be Venus-like or maybe even Mercury-like.

Chefs don't go around referring to roach poison as "filet Mignon"-like, just because they both can potentially be found in someone's kitchen.
 
2012-12-28 01:46:51 AM

fusillade762: Farker Soze: fusillade762: Quantum Apostrophe: 3D printer

Did a 3D printer rape and murder your entire family or what?

It did, and after that it gave him Space AIDS.

Ouch. That's possibly the only spaceborne STD worse that space herpes.


Could be worse, he could have gotten the Space Gay.

Actually, I'm more worried about food production. >_>
 
2012-12-28 01:49:41 AM
Ya, i've always been skeptical about those claims. We have 3 planets within the 'Goldilock' zone, Venus, Earth and Mars, and only Earth is habitable. And the best chance of finding life in our system aside from Earth isn't even a planet, it's a moon, Europa.
 
2012-12-28 01:52:49 AM

fusillade762: It did, and after that it gave him Space AIDS.

Ouch. That's possibly the only spaceborne STD worse that space herpes.


What about crabs? I hear they've taken over an entire nebula.
 
2012-12-28 02:26:06 AM
"As Scharf correctly points out, talk of a potentially 'habitable' world conjures images of fantastically blue and green planets blanketed with cloud cover - and just ready to burst with life."

Why would I be worried if dipshiats and journos who don't read things they comment on think there is more chance of another planet being inhabited than there really is?
 
2012-12-28 02:52:06 AM

moralpanic: Ya, i've always been skeptical about those claims. We have 3 planets within the 'Goldilock' zone, Venus, Earth and Mars, and only Earth is habitable. And the best chance of finding life in our system aside from Earth isn't even a planet, it's a moon, Europa.


2061 ftw
 
2012-12-28 02:57:13 AM

Ed Grubermann: We'll know that life isn't all that special, that it can happen elsewhere. (And maybe that will shut those damned Creationists up.)


The creationists have an answer for everything and just off the top of my head I can't think of anything in the Bible that explicitly states that Earth is the only planet with life. Maybe there was no reason to tell us.
 
2012-12-28 03:00:47 AM

DigitalCoffee: Question:

So What? This isn't Star Trek. You aren't just going to 'pop by' and check out the neighbors. You couldn't even get a science probe there in a human lifetime let alone any sort of expedition. So what would be the practical use of any such find?


If you could go even a significant fraction of the speed of light, you could make it eventually (an unmanned probe - I don't think we're ready to consider a multi-generational spaceship). The people who launch it might not get to see the results, but their great grandkids might.
 
2012-12-28 03:06:17 AM

Happy Hours: DigitalCoffee: Question:

So What? This isn't Star Trek. You aren't just going to 'pop by' and check out the neighbors. You couldn't even get a science probe there in a human lifetime let alone any sort of expedition. So what would be the practical use of any such find?

If you could go even a significant fraction of the speed of light, you could make it eventually (an unmanned probe - I don't think we're ready to consider a multi-generational spaceship). The people who launch it might not get to see the results, but their great grandkids might.


I've seen estimates from NASA on sending a prode to Barnard's Star (I think) that would take 50 years. It would be expensive, but not ruinous, and would produce so much more data even on the trip it would be well worth it.
 
2012-12-28 03:10:14 AM

Ed Grubermann: We'll know that life isn't all that special, that it can happen elsewhere. (And maybe that will shut those damned Creationists up.)


By the time any probe with currently achievable velocities got the information back to us, there'd be no creationists left to tell to shut up. Religions change a lot faster than the current turnaround on interstellar flight, given that modern Christianity is completely irreconcilable with Christianity of even three centuries ago it's unlikely that a side project like creationism will last the century or two necessary to get the data back on that.
 
2012-12-28 03:21:03 AM

Dingleberry Dickwad: Quantum Apostrophe: Damn, I had my 3D printer all packed up, some energy bars and bottled water. I was sure that private space was going to get me, nay, the entire species, off this rock? There aren't hundreds of other mud balls out there within easy reach, like so many Walmarts packed with stuff?

You mean low earth orbit is *it* for the richest people on Earth, and the rest of us will just have to somehow survive on this rock?

Oh no!

No no you were mistaken, see we were all going to get magic life extension tech and live in a happy immortal utopia right here on this rock and never run out of resources or room to expand.


No, no, no. We are sending QA (and his 3D printer) to the mudball. The rest of us will be staying here.

Where it's warm.
 
2012-12-28 03:41:21 AM

Quantum Apostrophe: Damn, I had my 3D printer all packed up...


I hope you can find some small consolation in helping to send my 3D printing stocks into orbit this year.

/a Quantum of solace, if you will
 
2012-12-28 03:42:24 AM

Jim_Callahan: Ed Grubermann: We'll know that life isn't all that special, that it can happen elsewhere. (And maybe that will shut those damned Creationists up.)

By the time any probe with currently achievable velocities got the information back to us, there'd be no creationists left to tell to shut up. Religions change a lot faster than the current turnaround on interstellar flight, given that modern Christianity is completely irreconcilable with Christianity of even three centuries ago it's unlikely that a side project like creationism will last the century or two necessary to get the data back on that.


At 15 light years we'd know if there was life without sending any physical probes anywhere near the planet. You don't get an atmosphere like earth without life.
 
2012-12-28 03:45:22 AM
ts2.mm.bing.net

Are you trying to tell me that this guy isn't really punk rock?
 
2012-12-28 04:04:42 AM
you will all drive yourself, eat yourself and breed yourself into extinction before anything "Star Trekkie" happens.

you aren't going anywhere.
get comfy.
 
2012-12-28 04:05:41 AM

dennysgod: We have two types of planets in our solar system, Jovian for gaseous planets and Terrestrial for rocky ones, or in layman's terms Jupiter-like and Earth-like. So it stands to reason that any rocky exo-planet would be called Earth-like since that what we call our rocky planets.

But in all honesty anybody who is actually paying attention to all these discoveries is intelligent enough to know that Earth-like doesn't mean "just-like" Earth, those who would be confused by the term are too busy wonder when the new season of Honey BooBoo is starting or doesn't believe in exo-planets because they're not in the Bible.


thanks Ric Romero
 
2012-12-28 04:16:44 AM

JohnnyC: I didn't realize that there were people out there that thought that those planets were just like Earth (or so similar as to be ripe for us to move there). I too just took "Earth-like" planets to mean rocky planets with an atmosphere the the habitable zone of their stars.


Then you, like a lot of others in this thread, haven't had experienced the thrill of trying to teach science to a lay audience, i.e., people who have only a passing interest in science and/or don't have much background to work from. I regularly run professional development workshops for middle and high school teachers - many of whom teach science - and I'm often privately stunned (and saddened) about the lack of knowledge people have. I no longer make any assumptions about what I think should be obvious or common knowledge for the general public.

I happen to know the guy who writes the SciAm blog that io9 cribbed from, and he's a really nice guy. He's being precise here precisely because of that phenomenon in the PhD comic someone posted earlier. Discoveries regularly get blown out of proportion even by science journalists who should know better, and of course there aren't many actual science journalists left who even understand what their interviewee is trying to convey. Where it comes back to bite the scientific community on the butt is when a disappointed Cletus then complains to his Congresscritter about all the money NASA is wasting. Better to do a reality check once in a while even if it sounds like Debbie Downer is in the house.
 
2012-12-28 04:16:59 AM

nmrsnr: Okay, I have a background in astronomy, so my sense of what the common perception of things is is skewed, but did people actually think that "potentially habitable planet" mean a place you would visit on vacation? All of the accounts I've read have made a point of saying that they are 2-5 times the mass of Earth, and while we have no idea what kind of atmosphere it would have, would very likely not be compatible with us, because we evolved very specifically for our atmosphere.


I don't even have the background in astronomy and I noted that finding all these "Earth-like" planets, while exciting, is virtually meaningless. We're closer to vacationing on Mars than any of these other planets and that's only after we figure out a few more major aspects of its existence and viability, and THEN figure out how to terraform it.

Really it's another case of journalists getting a hold of a catchphrase and using it as often as possible while doing no fact-checking whatsoever.
 
2012-12-28 04:21:09 AM
QA caught lunar rock crabs from my mom.

Yup. Factual.

/HAR
 
2012-12-28 05:09:31 AM

88 posts and nobody has pointed out that...

i34.tinypic.com
 
2012-12-28 07:11:36 AM

Lydia_C: JohnnyC: I didn't realize that there were people out there that thought that those planets were just like Earth (or so similar as to be ripe for us to move there). I too just took "Earth-like" planets to mean rocky planets with an atmosphere the the habitable zone of their stars.

Then you, like a lot of others in this thread, haven't had experienced the thrill of trying to teach science to a lay audience, i.e., people who have only a passing interest in science and/or don't have much background to work from. I regularly run professional development workshops for middle and high school teachers - many of whom teach science - and I'm often privately stunned (and saddened) about the lack of knowledge people have. I no longer make any assumptions about what I think should be obvious or common knowledge for the general public.
.....


I agree with your post but being a "science teacher" is a pretty sketchy descriptor. I teach science - or more specifically I teach Chemistry. 25 years ago I could interpret NMR data, use Heisenberg equations and a bunch of other stuff I've long since forgotten 15 years ago I worked as an Analytical chemist so I was proficient in all the flavors of chromatography, data analysis, method validation and bunch of other stuff I've long since forgotten. Today I am REALLY good at making basic chemistry understandable to 16 year old students - - but I have no illusion as to my "hardcorz" science capabilities.

Compared to most of my fellow teachers I am a freaking science GOD, compared to most of the other science teachers I am much more knowledgeable about a wide range of topics (astronomy, particle physics etc) but within their subject areas (say Biology, which interests me very little) they would still bury me.

My point (if I have one) is that just because someone teaches science doesnt mean they are universally interested in "science" - so it really doesnt surprise me when the Biology teacher isnt as impressed as I am with the LHC finding the Higgs or even has any idea what the LHC is. After all we spend our day trying to educate kids who ask question like "How is babby formed..." we're bound to get stupider over time.
 
2012-12-28 07:49:09 AM

SpikeStrip: 300B galaxies and this is the only planet that supports life. what more proof of god do you need?


I'd find that to be the negation proof.

If EVERY star had a planet with civilization (or, heck, just any kind of life) on it, Goldilocks zone or not, then I'd start thinking otherwise.

Note that "supports life" is rather vague - there are things on Earth that would be perfectly happy living on Mercury or Venus or some of the gas planet's moons. Maybe even venus.
 
2012-12-28 07:56:36 AM

DigitalCoffee:

So What? This isn't Star Trek. You aren't just going to 'pop by' and check out the neighbors. You couldn't even get a science probe there in a human lifetime let alone any sort of expedition. So what would be the practical use of any such find?


It's human nature to see what lies beyond the horizon. It's also human nature to attempt to climb over insurmountable obstacles. We're curious beings.

In the short term, we'd have some place to REALLY start paying attention to. And who knows, maybe in a century or three we might have the means to get out there. It's not impossible, just very time consuming. And look at the bright side - if we can get close enough to c, you wouldn't age much during the trip. And if you get to come back, you'd have amazing stories to tell your grandchildren, if they're still around.
 
2012-12-28 07:58:05 AM
When you hear news on a planet as fantastic as Zarmina, just remember that someone saw a star wobble or dim slightly. If that doesn't set off your BS detector...
 
2012-12-28 08:02:12 AM

Charles_Nelson_Reilly: moralpanic: Ya, i've always been skeptical about those claims. We have 3 planets within the 'Goldilock' zone, Venus, Earth and Mars, and only Earth is habitable. And the best chance of finding life in our system aside from Earth isn't even a planet, it's a moon, Europa.

2061 ftw


You mean 2010, right?
 
2012-12-28 08:17:47 AM

vygramul: Venus isn't in the habitable zone.


Bullcrap. Venus isn't in the "habitable zone" because we've defined the habitable zone as "not Venus" -- before we discovered how hot Venus was (because of the chemistry of its atmosphere) it was right in the "habitable zone"
 
2012-12-28 08:37:03 AM

Mister Peejay: It's human nature to see what lies beyond the horizon. It's also human nature to attempt to climb over insurmountable obstacles. We're curious beings.


That's true, but too touchy-feely for my tastes.

The practical application is that it adds to the store of human knowledge. The more we know about the universe, the better we can be at predicting how the universe will behave- important, because the caprice of the universe could kill us all tomorrow. Exoplanets tell us a great deal about how planets can turn out, how they form, and how their life-cycle behaves. Since we live on a planet, this is useful.

If that's a little bit too abstract for you, let's rewind and look at Mars and Venus, and then at Earth. Because that's what astronomers did. They saw the temperature of Venus, saw the composition of the atmosphere, and from that deduced the existence of the greenhouse effect. They saw the dust storms on Mars, and their impact on temperature, and from that deduced nuclear winters.

These are real things that have real consequences on Earth. We learned about them by examining other planets. Nobody looked at Venus and said, "How can I use observations of Venus to gain insight about the Earth?", but it was a natural result once we had done our observations.

OhioKnight: before we discovered how hot Venus was (because of the chemistry of its atmosphere) it was right in the "habitable zone"


Not really. The earliest estimates of the habitable zone were already after we had discovered Venus was beastly hot, and even then Venus was just at the edge when it was at aphelion.
 
2012-12-28 09:12:21 AM
Earth-like? As in not a toxic soup or a frozen/molten rock? Could possibly support some kind of life while not really appropriate for us?

What's the problem here?
 
2012-12-28 09:29:25 AM

Summercat: fusillade762: Farker Soze: fusillade762: Quantum Apostrophe: 3D printer

Did a 3D printer rape and murder your entire family or what?

It did, and after that it gave him Space AIDS.

Ouch. That's possibly the only spaceborne STD worse that space herpes.

Could be worse, he could have gotten the Space Gay.

Actually, I'm more worried about food production. >_>


It's certainly possible:

WARNING: THIS LINK IS MOST DEFINITELY NSFW AND COULD BE REALLY, REALLY OFFENSIVE TO SOME PEOPLE
 
2012-12-28 09:34:28 AM

OhioKnight: vygramul: Venus isn't in the habitable zone.

Bullcrap. Venus isn't in the "habitable zone" because we've defined the habitable zone as "not Venus" -- before we discovered how hot Venus was (because of the chemistry of its atmosphere) it was right in the "habitable zone"


No, we defined the habitable zone based on objective factors.  Our understanding of why Venus doesn't meet those factors helped us understand why we were wrong in thinking how large the habitable zone may be.  The optimistic estimate of the habitable zone inner-boundary is .84 AU, the pessimistic estimate is .95 AU.  Basically, Venus may not be habitable even if it was .2 AU further out, but it would probably be if it was  .3 AU further out.

We didn't ARBITRARILY say Venus is not in the habitable zone.  When we figured out WHY it isn't, that's when we realized it was outside the zone.  It's too close because too much water vapor will make it high enough into the atmosphere to be broken down by UV and the hydrogen will escape into space and soon you have no hydrogen - and therefore no water.

So it's not bullshiat in the slightest.
 
2012-12-28 10:05:46 AM

nmrsnr: Okay, I have a background in astronomy, so my sense of what the common perception of things is is skewed, but did people actually think that "potentially habitable planet" mean a place you would visit on vacation? All of the accounts I've read have made a point of saying that they are 2-5 times the mass of Earth, and while we have no idea what kind of atmosphere it would have, would very likely not be compatible with us, because we evolved very specifically for our atmosphere.


Exactly, I never thought "potentially habitable" meant Earth 2, Electric Boogaloo, just that it was in the Goldilocks Zone and met a few other basic criteria. I'm thinking someone was just trying to generate interest in an article.
 
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