“This system probably looks a lot like ours did when life first took root on Earth..”

Epsilon EridaniDespite the reference in the NASA press release, Epsilon Eridani wasn’t the fictional stellar backyard of Star Trek’s Spock – that was the triple star system 40 [Omicron2] Eridani. But Epsilon Eridani has featured in science fiction ever since being one of the subjects of the first searches for extra-terrestrial life [SETI] by Frank Drake. The Class K-2 star is slightly cooler, and younger [1/5th the age], than Sol but it’s close enough, 10 light-years away, for Robert Hooke’s inheritors to examine the exo-planetary system in detail. Observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope now indicate a second asteroid belt to add to the previously confirmed planet in the system. Other potential Epsilon Eridani orbiting exo-planets are, as yet, unconfirmed – and there’s a visual comparison with the Sol system here. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.