An international team of astronomers from MIT have found three planets that are remarkably similar to Earth – and could sustain life.

It’s good news for those interested in finding life outside planet Earth.

The newly discovered planets are roughly the same size and temperature of Earth and Venus, so they are being labeled as “the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system,” according to MIT.

The bad news is the new planets are roughly 40 light years from Earth. Just for perspective, it would take a shuttle with today’s technology 37,200 years to travel one light year.

The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile. TRAPPIST is designed to focus on 60 nearby dwarf stars — very small, cool stars that are so faint they are invisible to optical telescopes. Belgian scientists designed TRAPPIST to monitor dwarf stars at infrared wave lengths and search for planets around them.

via MIT News