Earth-like planets discovered by NASA’s Kepler Telescope

Three planets discovered that could potentially support life

By, Terence Reparejo
Health and Science Editor

NASA’s Kepler space observatory telescope recently discovered three planets capable of supporting life and that are “earth-like.”

Kepler-62f, which is a rocky world only 1.4 times bigger than earth, circles a star smaller and much dimmer than the sun.  Kepler-62f’s newfound neighbor is Kepler-62e which is 1.6 times bigger than the earth. These two planets make up two of the smallest exoplanets to be found in their star’s habitable zone with is just about the right range of distance where liquid water can exist on a world’s surface.

The third potentially habitable planet, called Kepler-69c, is 1.7 times bigger than earth and orbits around a star similar to our own.  It’s the smallest world ever found in the habitable zone of a sun-like star.  Researchers say that this could be a tremendous step in discovering the first ever “alien earth.”

The $600 million Kepler observatory was launched in March 2009 in order to hunt for Earth-size exoplanets.  Kepler finds alien worlds by detecting the tiny brightness dips caused when they cross the face of their stars from the instrument’s perspective.

Kepler has used this useful technique to its full capability, spotting more than 2,700 potential planets since its launch in 2009.  While only 120 of these planets have been confirmed to date, scientists say that 90 percent will end up being the real deal.

While Kepler has yet to discover Earth’s true twin, it surely is getting closer and closer to doing so, by just looking at the confirmation of Kepler-69c as an example.  The telescope needs to observe three transits to flag a planet candidate, so discovering a potentially habitable planet could take several years.

With so much progress being made, the Kepler telescope is looking to discover more planets and moving forward in hopes of finding a planet habitable in the future.

 

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