Out of the planets newly validated by NASA, 550 out of the confirmed 2,335 exoplanets are rocky worlds. Out of these, 21 are worlds where the temperatures based on the energy supplied by the star could be just right for liquid water to be present on the surface (NASA, 2017). This raises the hope for life to evolve on planets such as these. Although there is no method of conclusively proving the presence of life on these planets, there is a theory based on the possibilities for discovering life within the Solar System.
Considering that in the near future, humanity succeeds in finding even microbial life within the Solar System, with NASA’s focus on finding life based on the presence of liquids on planets, the theory proposes that this would open up the possibility that life might indeed be plentiful throughout the universe.
Humanity’s understanding of planetary schematics is progressing steadily with Kepler’s findings. Among its significant discoveries is the exoplanet Kepler-452b in 2014, which scientists expect to be similar to Earth in many respects due to its location within the habitable zone, although it is located about 1,400 light years away from Earth. In April in 2017, scientists discovered a super-Earth, named LHS-1140b, that orbits a red dwarf star and is 40 light years away.
These and more discoveries by telescopes such as the Kepler telescope, are building up a profile of diversity in exoplanets, with previously unknown planet varieties such as super-Earths and mini-Neptunes. Kepler has only explored a tiny patch of the Milky Way called the Cygnus Field – with about 1,50,000 stars (NASA, 2017). Given the about 300 billion stars estimated to be present in the Milky Way, the amazing diversity from the initial observations point towards the fact that the nuances of the universe might be more interesting than could be imagined.