NASA finds earth like planet in “habitable-zone” 53



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The artistic concept compares Earth (left) to the new planet, called Kepler-452b, which is about 60 percent larger. The illustration represents one possible appearance for Kepler-452b -- scientists do not know whether the planet has oceans and continents like Earth.

We’ve lived for centuries in the wonder of whether the galaxy contains another inhabitable, Earth-like planet on which people could like. And today, NASA have announced they have “found one”. That is, NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This morning NASA has said they have found 11 Earth like planets, or planets that orbit at a distance and reality that could allow water to pool, the most exciting for them is Kepler-452B, which is like a larger cousin to Earth, 1400 light years away in another constellation.

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.

While Kepler-452b is larger than Earth, its 385-day orbit is only 5 percent longer. The planet is 5 per cent farther from its parent star Kepler-452 than Earth is from the Sun. Kepler-452 is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun, has the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger.

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment,” said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who led the team that discovered Kepler-452b. “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet”.

To help confirm the finding and better determine the properties of the Kepler-452 system, the team conducted ground-based observations at the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory, the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins, Arizona, and the W. M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. These measurements were key for the researchers to confirm the planetary nature of Kepler-452b, to refine the size and brightness of its host star and to better pin down the size of the planet and its orbit.

The Kepler-452 system is located 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The research paper reporting this finding has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.

In addition to confirming Kepler-452b, the Kepler team has increased the number of new exoplanet candidates by 521 from their analysis of observations conducted from May 2009 to May 2013, raising the number of planet candidates detected by the Kepler mission to 4,696. Candidates require follow-up observations and analysis to verify they are actual planets.

Twelve of the new planet candidates have diameters between one to two times that of Earth, and orbit in their star’s habitable zone. Of these, nine orbit stars that are similar to our sun in size and temperature.

“We’ve been able to fully automate our process of identifying planet candidates, which means we can finally assess every transit signal in the entire Kepler dataset quickly and uniformly,” said Jeff Coughlin, Kepler scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, who led the analysis of a new candidate catalog. “This gives astronomers a statistically sound population of planet candidates to accurately determine the number of small, possibly rocky planets like Earth in our Milky Way galaxy.”

Do you have a curiosity about whether there is indeed life on another planet?

This size and scale of the Kepler-452 system compared alongside the Kepler-186 system and the solar system. Kepler-186 is a miniature solar system that would fit entirely inside the orbit of Mercury.



This artist’s concept depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of star that is similar to our sun.

Image: Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle;. NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt


Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Not human life, but life !! For there to be humans on other worlds they would have had to have a similar history to us here on earth, the dinosaurs or something similar, the meteor, and the evolution of great apes. But life for sure and there is a good possibility of intelligent life. Earth is a small blue planet on the outer edge of the Milky way, there are trillions of planets out there in the Universe and more than one will have life, but man won’t reach them in my lifetime sadly

  2. We are it, live with it and feed the starving millions here, before you go gallivanting around space, looking for that proverbial grass, that’s supposed to be greener. There’s enough on earth, just too few want to control too much of it.

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  3. Of all the planets out there what makes people think that we are the only life! I do agree with Daryl in that the money could be better spent instead of wasting it on research and space travel that we don’t seem to get any closer to finding out much…and who cares apart from the science buffs!

  4. On the law of averages, all indications are that there are billions of habitable planets in the Universe.
    To believe that humans are the only intelligent life in the Universe is the epitome of egotism!

  5. Perhaps the inhabitants of these far off worlds won’t be so happy to have us visiting them and I don’t doubt for a second, that there will be life out there in the universe

  6. If we send a radio message to Kepler 452B, we may receive a reply in 2800 yrs if the planet is still there and our planet is still here. We need huge advances in our understanding of the universe to develop technologies to overcome the problems of time and space and secure a long term future.

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    • Conversely anybody there is looking at us 2800 years in the past and thinking ” Well they are building those big pointy things in the desert so maybe they will understand that our signal is not a message from the Gods”.

  7. I really think we should try to fix our own Planet rather than trying to find another one to stuff up Wake up and think what we can do for our own xxx

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