'The Long Shot'

A fascinating read from 2009, describing how a group of astronomers is attempting to locate Earth-like planets outside of our solar system.

RV shifts are how the vast majority of extrasolar worlds have been discovered, but only because these planets, called “hot Jupiters,” are extremely massive and in hellishly close orbits around their stars. Their stellar wobbles are measurable in meters per second; seeing the much smaller centimeters-per-second wobble of an Earth twin is orders of magnitude more difficult. For the Alpha Centauri system, the feat is akin to detecting a bacterium orbiting a meter from a sand grain—from a distance of 10 kilometers.

Add it to your Instapaper queue and enjoy sometime.