Monday, December 5, 2011

NASA Telescope Confirms Alien Planet in Habitable Zone

Date: 05 December 2011 Time: 11:12 AM ET
Artist's Conception of Kepler-22b
This artist's conception illustrates Kepler-22b, a planet known to comfortably circle in the habitable zone of a sun-like star.
This story was updated at 12:15 p.m. ET.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has confirmed the discovery of its first alien world in its host star's habitable zone — that just-right range of distances that could allow liquid water to exist — and found more than 1,000 new explanet candidates, researchers announced today (Dec. 5).
The new finds bring the Kepler space telescope's total haul to 2,326 potential planets in its first 16 months of operation.These discoveries, if confirmed, would quadruple the current tally of worlds known to exist beyond our solar system, which recently topped 700.


NASA News Release --
NASA's Kepler Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-Like Star
MOFFET FIELD, Calif. -- NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don't yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.


Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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