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These 7 worlds could have life beyond Earth

Whether in or beyond our solar system, these are places we might look to find life — like Earth’s or otherwise.

NASA

The universe is infinite, with endless possibilities of life forms that may exist beyond Earth.

NASA

Although we only know of one example of a world where life has managed to survive (Earth), scientists are exploring foreign planets and icy moons that could potentially have some form of alien life.

MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

As the search for life beyond Earth heats up, Inverse breaks down the seven hottest places to look for alien life in the cosmos.

7. Mars

As the fourth planet from the Sun, this neighboring planet has a few things in common with Earth. Mounting evidence suggests that Mars may have hosted life during its early history when the planet was a wet, warm world with ancient riverbeds that once flowed on the Red Planet.

NASA

But today, Mars’ temperatures drop as low as -220 degrees Fahrenheit during its winters. That would make it far too cold for life as we know it to survive. Ongoing missions like NASA’s Perseverance rover are currently exploring Mars for signs of ancient life.

6. Ganymede

Jupiter’s largest moon contains more water than all of the Earth’s oceans combined buried beneath its icy surface.

In 1996, scientists discovered evidence of oxygen in Ganymede’s atmosphere. But its atmosphere is too thin to likely support life.

5. Enceladus

Saturn’s moon Enceladus also has evidence of a subsurface ocean and plumes of water ice and vapor erupting from the moon’s south polar region.

Since it’s located in the outer Solar System and reflects sunlight, the temperatures on Enceladus reach -330 degrees Fahrenheit. But the ocean itself is liquid thanks to tidal forces.

4. Titan

Saturn’s largest moon is the only other known world in our Solar System besides Earth with liquid seas on its surface.

But the lakes on Titan are made up of hydrocarbons like ethane, so any form of life that would survive there would look very different to the one we have on Earth.

3. Proxima Centauri b

This Earth-sized exoplanet orbits within the habitable zone of a red dwarf star, Proxima Centauri.

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Scientists still need to do follow-up observations of this exoplanet to find out whether it has water, an atmosphere, or if it is tidally locked with one side constantly facing its star.

2. Kepler-186f

This exoplanet was the first Earth-sized planet to orbit within its star’s habitable zone, a distance suitable enough to support liquid water on its surface.

But Kepler-186f only receives one-third the energy that Earth does from the Sun, which makes it near the outer edge of the habitable zone.

1. TRAPPIST-1d

At about 30 percent the mass of Earth, this small exoplanet orbits on the inner edge of its star’s habitable zone. The planet’s host star is an ultracool dwarf star.

NASA

Trappist-1d likely receives about 4.3 percent of the sunlight that Earth receives, and is likely to have a compact, hydrogen-rich atmosphere.

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