The University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo compiled a list of habitable planets found so far and catalogs news related to the search for exoplanets. The closest potentially habitable exoplanet is Proxima Cen b, just a short 4.2 light years away. The furthest away yet discovered is Kepler-62 f, located 1200 light years away. As expected from the Kepler paper we read earlier this semester, all planets have similar composition, orbit, and size as earth so that they have the potential to contain liquid water.
The University’s overall project is called the Planetary Habitability Laboratory, and its goal is to map the habitable universe. It’s also created a realistic reconstruction of earth’s surface from the last 750 million years using NASA satellite imagery, paleogeographic data related to continental shifts, and paleoclimatic data related to ice ages and milankovitch cycle forcings. Since the Planetary Habitability Laboratory started in 2010, it created the Earth Similarity Index, the first measure of Earth-likeness for exoplanets; and created the first database of potentially habitable exoplanets. Check it out to see a counter for days since the last habitable exoplanet was found and to explore the reconstruction of earth’s historical geography.