NASA telescope finds 10 more plants that could have life

They want to know how many planets like Earth are out there. NASA  JPL-Caltech

They want to know how many planets like Earth are out there. NASA JPL-Caltech

Of those, 30 are similar in size to Earth and orbiting in their star's habitable zone.

It's important to note that NASA's rules for what defines a "planet" are incredibly exacting.

"They say not to count our chickens before they're hatched, but that's exactly what these results allow us to do based on probabilities that each egg (candidate) will hatch into a chick (bona fide planet)".

NASA on Monday announced the Kepler space telescope team has released a catalog with 219 new planet candidates, including 10 which are near-Earth size and in their stars' habitable "Goldilocks" zone.

Seven of the 10 newfound Earth-size planets circle stars that are just like ours, not cool dwarf ones that require a planet be quite close to its star for the right temperature.

The analysis pushes Kepler's tally to 4,034 planet candidates overall, of which 2,335 have been confirmed through additional observation and analysis.

Kepler spots potential planets by looking for a dimming of a star's brightness due a planet crossing in front of it.

"Additionally, results using Kepler data suggest two distinct size groupings of small planets". Kepler's main mission ended in 2013 after the failure of two of its four wheels that control its orientation in space. That planet is situated around the closest star.

To ensure a lot of planets weren't missed, the team introduced their own simulated planet transit signals into the data set and determined how many were correctly identified as planets. In the mid-2020s, we have our sights on taking a picture of small planets like Earth with our Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

This most recent announcement of data is the final announcement of findings that will be added to the catalog from the original Kepler mission.

KOI-7711, an unconfirmed exoplanet at this time, appears to be our best candidate for an Earth-like alien world.

The data indicate "a major new division in the family tree of exoplanets", he said, "somewhat analogous to the discovery that mammals and lizards are separate branches on the tree of life".

This sharpens the dividing line between potentially habitable planets and those that are inhospitable to life as we know it, the researchers said.

It seems that nature commonly makes rocky planets up to about 75 percent bigger than Earth. The conference was held at the Ames Research Center in California as part of exoplanet week, which began Saturday.

When asked during the press conference how the team felt about Kepler's first mission coming to a close, Thompson explained that she sees it more as a new beginning. "It's unbelievable, the things that Kepler has found". K2, which has found over 100 different exoplanets so far, was started as a way to give the telescope a second life after Kepler suffered multiple mission-threatening technological setbacks. It has shown us these terrestrial worlds, and we still have all of this work to do to really understand how common Earths are in the galaxy.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.