How common are habitable planets?

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The Earth is teeming with life, which occupies a diverse array of environments; other bodies in our Solar System offer fewer, if any, niches that are habitable by life as we know it. Nonetheless, astronomical studies suggest that many habitable planets may be present within our Galaxy.

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Figure 1: Environments on small and large Earth-like planets.

NASA/CORBIS/OAR/NURP

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Acknowledgements

I thank J. Cuzzi, F. Drake and G. Marcy for insightful discussions.

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Correspondence to Jack J. Lissauer.

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Lissauer, J. How common are habitable planets?. Nature 402, C11–C14 (1999) doi:10.1038/35011503

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