by Graham Smith
The first Earth-like planet outside the solar system will have been discovered by the end of the year, one of the world's leading astronomers said yesterday.
Professor Michel Mayor, the scientist in charge of the team who detected the first extrasolar planet in 1995, claimed that the chance of finding a planet that is habitable for humans is now imminent.
The astronomer, of Geneva University, said that recent technological progress that allows the observation of planets outside the solar system now makes the prospect of locating a planet of a similar make-up to Earth extremely likely.
Professor Mayor said: 'The search for twins of Earth is motivated by the ultimate prospect of finding sites with favourable conditions for the development of life.
'We’ve entered a new phase in this search.'
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