Astronomers are getting much more adept at locating earth-like planets in habitable zones. In a recent paper submitted to the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, the authors describe how they can calculate the parameters of the planet based on its orbit, amount of radiation from parent star and the makeup of its atmosphere. The planet they chose for this test case was HD85512b which is a planet roughly 3.6 times the size of earth orbiting a much dimmer star at a distance near that of mercury. To top it off, the planet is only 36 light years away (In space distances, not that far. In human distances, extremely far.) This makes it comparable in interest to another recently found possibly habitable planet, Gliese 581d. This is the most exciting frontier of discovery in my opinion. I reminds me of what it must have been like for explorers going across the Atlantic searching for a trade route to the west indies. Only, I hope we don't kill all the natives this time when we eventually get there.
Fifty New Alien Worlds Revealed