Astronomers believe that we are close to discovering planets similar to Earth in the near future. The announcement was made this week at the annual American Astronomical Society conference.
Within just four to five years, researchers believe that they will have found planets where life could flourish or is already developed.
"The fundamental question is: Are we alone? For the first time, there's an optimism that sometime in our lifetimes we're going to get to the bottom of that," said Simon (Pete) Worden, an astronomer who heads NASA's Ames Research Center. "If I were a betting man, which I am, I would bet we're not alone — there is a lot of life."
The discovery of "exoplanets" outside of our own solar system are very likely.
With the use of the Kepler telescope NASA and researchers are excited about what could be a 'special place in history.'
The Kepler telescope has only one use - to find planets.
In the 1990s it was common to find a few planets a year. New technology has increased that to a couple of planets each month.
"From Kepler, we have strong indications of smaller planets in large numbers, but they aren't verified yet," said Geoff Marcy of the University of California at Berkeley. He is one of the founding fathers of the field of planet-hunting and a Kepler scientist.
It appears that there are at least 43,000 stars that are close to the same size as our sun. Two-thirds of those stars seem to be appear to be life-friendly.