I just heard this story on NPR yesterday and the topic of superhabitable planets is superrelevant to our discussion of what life is and what conditions might exist where it is formed.
“In their hunt for potentially habitable planets around distant stars, scientists have been so focused on finding Earth-like planets that they're ignoring the possibility that other kinds of planets might be even friendlier to life, a new report says.
So-called superhabitable worlds wouldn't necessarily look like Earth but would nonetheless have conditions that are more suitable for life to emerge and evolve, according to the article published this month in the journal Astrobiology.
"In my point of view, astronomers and biologists are biased," says , an astrophysicist at Canada's McMaster University who is the study's lead author. "These scientists look for planets that are Earth-like."
But it's possible that Earth is actually only marginally habitable by the standards of the universe, says Heller, who points out that our home may not represent a typical habitable world.
He and co-author of Weber State University in Utah have come up with a long list of traits that might make a planet "superhabitable."
The scientific journal article discussed on NPR is available here (just published!).
HellerRené and ArmstrongJohn. Superhabitable worlds. Astrobiology. 2014. 14(1): 50-66.