The quest for alien life has been boosted by a major discovery about exoplanets.
Scientists say that “water worlds,” or exoplanets that contain lots of water, are actually very common.
A team of experts has been digging into data obtained by the Kepler space telescope, as recently revealed at the Goldschmidt conference in Boston.
Kepler has discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets so far, some of which could support alien life.
And it turns out that around 35 percent of the planets that are bigger than Earth are “likely” to have water.
Even more excitingly, some are believed to have as much as 50 percent water — far more than Earth’s 0.02 percent water-weight.
Water is very important in the search for aliens. It has many features that make it ideal for supporting life — even in outer space.
Its strong hydrogen bonds encourage compounds to come together and it can transport electrons — which is important for producing energy.
The search for water in space is difficult because examining the composition of planets isn’t easy given their distance from Earth.
That’s why scientists have struggled, until now, to work out how many “water worlds” actually exist.
“It was a huge surprise to realize that there must be so many water worlds,” said Harvard University’s Dr. Li Zheng.