Friday, 19 April 2013

NASA's Kepler Observatory finds most Earth-like planet to date

NASA's Kepler Observatory finds most Earth-like planet to date, Earth just may have a twin 1,200 light years away named Kepler-62f. While extrasolar planets are nothing unusual anymore, the fact that Kepler-62f is in a star's habitable zone, the distance where liquid water (and life as we know it) can exist on the surface and is just 1.4 times larger than the Earth make it the most earth-like planet yet discovered by NASA's prolific planet finder.

So, could Kepler-62f be home to an alien civilization?

Unfortunately, that question is just about impossible to answer without traveling to the planet. On the other hand, assuming that alien life elsewhere in the galaxy has the same definition of a suitable climate that we earth species do, Kepler-62f could be a great home. Despite the vast gulf separating Earth from the alien world, scientists already know that Kepler 62f orbits its parent star, which is just a fifth as luminous as the Sun, in 267 days and has a surface that is probably mostly, if not all liquid water.

As if that weren't enough, there's more, a lot more.

To date, Kepler has found over 2,700 probable planets orbiting other stars. So far, only about 120 have been confirmed to exist but mission scientists estimate that, in time, over 90% of these potential planets will be confirmed as real. The interesting trend in these findings: Earth-like planets are being found at ever-increasing frequency and that smaller (Neptune and smaller-sized) planets are more numerous than Jupiter-like worlds.

In the end, while certainly not being the fingerprint of an alien civilization, Kepler 62f is interesting in that it is now known that very inviting, Earth-like planets, can exist throughout the reaches of space. The most exciting part: Kepler is still looking for more and will continue to do so through calendar year 2015!

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