NASA Finds Most Earth-Like Planet Yet

Researchers have discovered the most similar
planet yet to Earth, 1,400 light-years away. Kepler 452b orbits its star in 385 days, just
20 days longer than our own year. Its star is just 4% larger, a billion and a half years
older, and 20% brighter than the sun, meaning 452b is firmly in the “goldilocks” habitable
zone that puts the odds of it being rocky, like Earth, between 50-62%. Scientist Jeff Coughlin says “this is the
first possibly rocky, habitable planet around a solar-type star.” All 11 previously discovered
exoplanets of similar size and orbit circle smaller, cooler stars. The planet was found by the Kepler telescope,
which searches for possible Earth-twins by observing periodic dips in the brightness
of stars as planets pass before them, like the way our moon causes an eclipse here on
Earth. The Kepler telescope stared at a single patch
of the Milky Way for four years before its pointing system failed in 2013, but the mission
still succeeded in cataloguing more than 4,600 exoplanet candidates. This means astronomers
still have huge amounts of data to sort through and make new findings, like this discovery.
With 452b, just over 1,000 of the exoplanet candidates have now been confirmed. 20 years ago this fall, the first exoplanet
orbiting a distant star was discovered. And with the successor to Kepler launching
in 2017, the pace of discovery is about to increase substantially. The Transiting Exoplanet
Survey Satellite (or TESS), will be able to cover hundreds of times as much sky as the
Kepler mission, and will identify prime targets for further examination by the successor to
Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, set for an October 2018 launch. Astronomers can now project with some degree
of confidence that of the 600 stars within 30 light-years of Earth, there should be roughly
60 potential earth-twins. So, according to Dr. Didier Queloz, the man
who co-discovered that first earth-like planet 20 years ago, “If we keep working so well
and so enthusiastically, the issue of life on another planet will be solved.” Like and share this video to help others on
our little rock become aware of this good news. For the video editor Brendan Plank,
I’m his brother Bryce, thanks for watching.


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