When NASA’s Kepler mission glimpsed its first two Earth-size exoplanets with a decent chance of having liquid water on their surfaces a decade ago, mission head Bill Borucki turned to Lisa Kaltenegger, who is now associate professor of astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Carl Sagan Institute, to confirm that the planets might be habitable, reports a feature in Quanta Magazine.
Her ultimate answer was a qualified yes. The planets might be suitable for life, or at least for liquid water…The caveat was that she would need more advanced observations to be sure.
“Kaltenegger has since become perhaps the world’s leading computer modeler of potentially habitable worlds,” author Joshua Sokol reports in the piece. “In simulating ersatz Earths and more speculative visions of living planets, Kaltenegger leverages the bizarre life and geology found on Earth to develop a more systematic set of expectations about what might be possible elsewhere.”