Published: Wed, June 21, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

NASA's Kepler finds 10 more Earth-like planets


Program scientist Mario Perez shared on Monday at NASA's Ames Research Center in California that 10 out of the 219 new discovered exoplanets were about the size of Earth, CNN reported.

Nonetheless, since the Kepler mission started way back in 2009, the mission had helped scientists to identify thousands of alleged exoplanets, and researchers had confirmed that more than 2,000 of those are exoplanets. Those periods of dimming, they explained, indicate a potential planet crossing between the star and Earth.

The Kepler Space Telescope Team just announced the discovery of 219 potential planets. To find all these new worlds, Kepler peered at an area of the sky near the constellation Cygnus, keeping an eye on more than 150,000 stars.

Before Kepler was launched, astronomers had hoped that the frequency of Earth-like planets would be about one percent of the stars. Researchers at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii took a closer look at 1,300 stars examined by Kepler to measure the radii of the 2,000 planets orbiting them, Sarah Lewin writes for Space.com.

The final catalog of planet candidates will help researchers discover how many planets in the galaxy are Earth-like.

Between Kepler and other methods, scientists have now confirmed more than 3,600 exoplanets and found about 62 potentially habitable planets. The 10 planets NASA identified exist in the "habitable zone", in which the heat from the stars it orbits isn't too hot or too cold for liquid water to form on the surface of the planet.

Kepler keeps its eyes on over 145,000 stars, measuring their light about every 30 minutes, continuously, for four years. "I would only want to live on one of those", said Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist. Thompson also said that she is excited to witness what individuals are going to do with this catalog.

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These planets are usually 1.6 times the size of Earth, with rocky terrain.

The Kepler K1 mission was to explore and structure planetary systems that contain planets similar to the Earth. The discovery came from data obtained by the Kepler Space Telescope up until 2014.

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.

A common refrain among tree-hugging, Al Gore-types is that we have to take care of our planet because it's the only one we've got.

The James Webb Space Telescope, however, is capable of observing large exoplanets and detecting starlight filtered through their atmosphere, which will enable scientists to determine the atmospheric composition of the planets and analyze them for the presence of gases that can create a biological ecosystem.

The Kepler space telescope hunts for planets by detecting the minuscule drop in a star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it, called a transit.

"It implies that Earth-size planets in the habitable zone around sun-like stars are not rare", Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, who was not part of the work, said in an email.

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