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In the night sky: Orion
In the night sky: Orion

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4.3.7 Life beyond the Solar System

An image of common planets around stars in the Milky Way.
Figure 29 An artists’ impression illustrates how common planets are around stars in the Milky Way.

The discovery of exoplanets has intensified interest in the search for extraterrestrial life, particularly for those that orbit in the host star’s habitable zone where it is possible for liquid water (and therefore life) to exist on the surface.

The study of planetary habitability also considers a wide range of other factors in determining the suitability of a planet for hosting life.

Activity 4.5

What do you think? Do you think that there are planets beyond the Solar System where life might have got going? Do you think there might be life on any of the other planets in the Solar System? What about some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn – could they host life?

Note down your ideas.

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Next, you have the chance to review your learning on this course in the Week 4 quiz which will include questions from the whole course.