While it’s not strictly impossible that life in the
universe exists in an as-yet-unknown form (say,
silicon-based), we don’t really know how to look
for it. We do, however, know how to look for the
conditions that have given birth to the life forms we
know — that is, the conditions on our home planet,
This is the Kepler mission: to locate planets
enough like Earth to be considered habitable. There
are several key factors to this. First, the planets
must be in the “Goldilocks” zone — that is, not too
hot, not too cold, but juuuust right. This refers to
the planet’s orbit position around its star: a
distance where it’s not so close that it’s too hot for
liquid water, but not so far that it’s so cold all water
In addition, the planet needs to be rocky — like


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