China is planning the first search for habitable planets

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Chinese scientists have proposed a space project to explore the universe through a space telescope to discover habitable Earth-like planets outside the solar system, about 32 light-years away from our planet.

As China International Radio reports, the project is called the “Closeby Habitable Exoplanet Survey” (CHES). If successful, it will be the first space mission specifically designed to discover habitable Earth-like planets around a nearby Sun-like star.

The exploration of habitable planets outside the solar system is one of the key fields of fundamental research in astronomy.

“CHES should provide key answers to the question of whether we are alone in the universe, as well as to the question of how planets can become the cradle of life,” said Yi Jianghui, a professor at the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who is also the principal investigator of the CHES mission.

Yi said that more than 5,000 exoplanets have been discovered and confirmed so far, including about 50 Earth-like planets in the habitable zone, but most of them are hundreds of light years away from Earth.

“The discovery of nearby habitable worlds will be a major breakthrough for humanity, and it will also help humans expand our living space in the future,” Yi added.