elkcsr writes "The San Jose Mercury news reports on the phenomenal discovery of 28 new extra-solar planets out there in our galaxy. All of them are outside of the band scientists consider necessary for supporting life as we know it, but the solar systems analyzed should still be quite familiar to those of us in this neck of the woods. System layouts feature small rocky planets towards the star and gas giants further out. The biggest difference seen is a preference for elliptical orbits, instead of generally circular orbit we enjoy. ' For example, the team also described new details about one specific exoplanet, discovered two years ago. This planet, which circles the star Gliese 436, is thought to be half rock, half water. Its rocky core is surrounded by an amount of water compressed into a solid form at high pressures and low temperatures. It makes a short, 2.6-day orbit around Gliese 436. Based on its radius and density, scientists calculate that it has the mass of 22 Earths, making it slightly larger than Neptune. "The profound conclusion is, here we've found yet another type of planet that is already represented in our solar system," Marcy said.'"