NASA telescope finds 10 more planets that could have life

Posted June 20, 2017

NASA explained that nature commonly makes rocky planets up to about 75% bigger than Earth.

The potential discoveries are part of the final catalog of results being released from the first Kepler space telescope mission. 10 exoplanets among the latest list are in the "Goldilocks" zone and their size is comparable to that of our planet Earth.

Perhaps the most interesting of these is KY 7711, which Thompson said is located near its star in an orbit that is very similar to the path that Earth takes around the Sun, meaning that it reces the same amount of heat, although it is approximately 1.3 times smaller than our planet. Presence of water in liquid form is one of the main conditions for any exoplanet to support life.

With this new data, the catalog suggests that about half of the exoplanets in our galaxy are either gaseous, with no surface, or have such a heavy atmosphere that life as we know it would not be possible.

For more information about Kepler Exoplanet Week, go to nasa.gov/kepler/exoplanetweek.

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In the search for life, Fulton believes it will be better to focus on super-Earths. NASA estimates for every planet we confirm there are another 100-200 out there.

"Are we alone? Maybe Kepler today has told us indirectly, although we need confirmation, that we are probably not alone", Kepler scientist Mario Perez said in a Monday news conference.

"Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future Nasa missions to directly image another Earth".

The official release by NASA further informed.

To date, there are already 4,034 exoplanet candidates identified by Kepler, and 2,335 of these have been confirmed. The mission has also found 50 candidates similar in size to Earth, with more than 30 of them confirmed.

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"This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy's most compelling questions - how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?" said Susan Thompson, lead author of the catalog study. All of Kepler's observations were in a small patch of sky between the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra.

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

The findings were presented at a news conference Monday at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

Below is a plot showing only the small subset of relatively Earth-sized planet candidates. This allowed the team to figure out where they might have overcounted or undercounted a particular type of planet.

So to fix this, the Kepler team simulated their own positive and false signals of planet transits and compared them to the actual data from the mission. Such planets are harder to spot because they might have made only a few transits across their star during Kepler's 4-year watch. He likened the discovery to realizing that mammals and reptiles are on separate branches of the evolutionary tree. The space administration's James Webb Space Telescope will launch in 2018, which will be able to "detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and other components of a planet's atmosphere".

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The findings come courtesy of NASA's pioneering Kepler space telescope, our eye in the sky when it comes to spotting potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system.