By KAVI AHMED, age 11

Artist’s rendering of a planet Kepler-62f, which is located in the habitable zone of the star, Kepler-62. IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons
Artist’s rendering of a planet Kepler-62f, which is located in the habitable zone of the star, Kepler-62. IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons

A habitable planet is a large round body in space that travels around a star and can potentially support a living organism such as bacteria, fungi, humans and animals. In order for life to thrive, A habitable planet cannot be too hot or cold, and also needs rain, fertile soil and oxygen. Scientists have been searching for habitable planets to find other living organisms for years. So far, they have not found a majority of the planets in the universe. They have been studying Mars, as they believe it once held water. Then they found the habitable zone.

The habitable zone is an area inside of a solar system that could contain planets with the necessary characteristics to support life. The Milky Way galaxy contains 8.8 billion Earth-sized planets that fit this description. “There are more Earth-like planets than there are people on Earth,” says Seth Borenstein of NBC News.

It is also very difficult to find these habitable planets. Many scientists use the “transit method”—this means waiting to see a planet to cross in front of a star. By studying the star and the amount of time that it takes the planet to circle it, scientists can make calculations that can help them to determine whether or not the planet orbits within the star’s habitable zone. This method has its flaws such as keeping the star in view and the planet having a small atmosphere, which makes the planet seemingly smaller and harder to see. Another method is to use measurements from satellites to locate the approximate distance and size of these planets.

You may be asking yourself, “Why does this matter?” It matters because it shows that intelligent life* may exist somewhere else. Habitable zones, are a very important discovery because they show that planets similar to Earth can be found in our universe. There are countless other habitable planets outside of the Milky Way, and you can help to find them.

*intelligent life: life forms that display animal or human-like characteristics.