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The Search For a Planet With Water

Researchers are searching the solar system for a planet?like ours?that could sustain life. One of the first things they look for is water.

In the July 12 issue of the Independent, Steve Connor writes about the discovery of a planet where one side is "bathed in perpetual daylight while the other is kept in infinite night. Here, an entire year passes in just over 48 hours and surface temperatures are hot enough to melt lead." It's obviously not habitable, so why are astronomers interested in it? According to Connor, it's "also the place where scientists have for the first time found evidence of water on a planet beyond our own solar system?a discovery that marks a milestone in the search for the vital signs of extraterrestrial life."

The planet has been named HD 189733b and it orbits a star that is similar in size to the sun. Connor quotes US astronomer Mao-Chang Liang as saying, "The discovery of water is the key to the discovery of alien life."

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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