That was the consensus here Wednesday evening among five planetary science experts who spoke at the 5th annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Panel Debate held at the American Museum of Natural History. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, moderated the informal discussion. At issue was whether our solar system is special, why it looks the way it does, and how others thus far detected differ. The debate took place between theoretical and observational scientists on the different aspects of detecting and categorizing alien solar systems. About 700 people attended the event.
And the Space.com report summarizes with this:
But with the vast majority of the alien planets found in eccentric orbits, Butler has a different view. “I think with the data at hand, we can say that our solar system is rare. Eccentricity dominates,” said “It’s just a matter of how rare we are,” he added.
I don’t know what the estimate is, but look out into space on some clear night. Count the stars you see. Then, take into consideration that people in the southern hemisphere see a totally different group of stars. Then, take into consideration that if you waited six months, both you and the people in the southern hemisphere would see a totally different group of stars again. Out of all those points of light, multiply it by 1,000,000 for all the stars that are too dim to see. Out of all that number, We have documented about 5,000 planets so far.
So, how do these people justify their conclusion? Just as aging scientists tend to grow much more conservative with age. “There’s no place like home” was the scientific conclusion of a little girl lost. I think the conclusion of this panel is about as the same. I don’t think there is anything scientifically unique about a mid-sized sun with only one habitable planet circling it. There may be no place like home to us,. but there are many other homes out there.