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When we look around our Solar System, it seems obvious to us that Earth is the most habitable planet around. After all, all the rest seem to be broiling or freezing, too small to sustain much atmosphere at all or so big their atmosphere imposes crushing pressure on anything coming within its gravitational influence. And certainly, from an anthropomorphic view, our planet has been lauded for its fortuitously life-generating capacities. But is our Earth actually the ideal model for a life-generating planet?

Well, no, according to scientists who decided to sit down and study the question. There are aspects of our planet which, if enhanced, would magnify the ability for life to develop and thrive. And so it follows that a planet naturally reflecting these enhancements would be even more conducive to life than Earth itself. These aspects include the size of the planet, distribution of its materials, and what kind of star it orbited. A somewhat bigger Earth -- one and a half times the size of our Earth, perhaps, would have an even stronger magnetic field deflecting harmful solar radiation, not to mention providing more surface area upon which life could develop. A world with shallower seas and (surprisingly) less surface water, but with lots more small land masses instead of Earth's few large ones. A different kind of star would help as well, smaller but more stable kinds being available in the galactic storehouse.

These are not simply hypothetical propositions. There are hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way alone, and perhaps many times as many planets. There are, unquestionably, superhabitable planets out there, simply yet to be discovered. And so our prospects for traveling to the stars and discovering new life on it there have never been brighter.

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