Monday, February 20, 2006

Astronomers Get Shortlist of Possible ET Addresses

Astronomers looking for extraterrestrial life now have a short list of places to point their telescopes.

They include nearby stars of the right size, age and composition to have Earth-like planets circling them, scientists said on Saturday.

But cuts in federal funding mean that private philanthropists who pay for the bulk of their work may find out first when and if extraterrestrial life is discovered, the astronomers told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Margaret Turnbull of the Carnegie Institution of Washington released her "top 10" list of potential stars to the meeting. They will be the first targets of NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder, a system of two orbiting observatories scheduled for launch by 2020..........

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