Can JWST Tell the Difference Between an Exo-Earth and an Exo-Venus?

Earth and Venus. NASA.

As of this month, astronomers have discovered 5,506 exoplanets orbiting other stars. That number is growing daily, and astronomers are hoping, among other things, to find Earth-like worlds. But will we know one when we see it? How might we be able to tell an Earth-like garden from a Venus-like pressure cooker from upwards of 40 light years away? Is JWST up to the challenge?

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Could Life Survive on Frigid Exo-Earths? Maybe Under Ice Sheets

This artist's illustration shows what an icy exo-Earth might look like. A new study says liquid water could persist under ice sheets on planets outside of their habitable zones. Image Credit: NASA

Our understanding of habitability relies entirely on the availability of liquid water. All life on Earth needs it, and there’s every indication that life elsewhere needs it, too.

Can planets with frozen surfaces somehow have enough water to sustain life?

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