Have We Found Another Earth? NASA Teases Kepler Space Telescope Discovery
A new NASA press release hinted today that the Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched in 2009 to find Earth-like planets, may have actually found one.
NASA will make a formal announcement on Thursday, but check out the statement today:
Exoplanets, especially small Earth-size worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago. Today, and thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years — another Earth.
We are on the cusp!
I. Am. So. Ex. Cited.
First Pluto, now this.
I am so happy to be alive right now!
— NASA (@NASA) July 23, 2015
UPDATE: Yes, NASA has found Earth 2.0! Kepler-452b is the first “near Earth size” planet that has been discovered. NASA calls it: “Earth’s Bigger, Older Cousin.”
From NASA Press Release:
NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”
The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet — of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.
“On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.”
Kepler-452b is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth and is considered a super-Earth-size planet. While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a good chance of being rocky.