Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NASA Discovers First Earth-Size Planets Beyond Our Solar System

Earth-class Planets Line Up This chart compares the first Earth-size planets found around a sun-like star to planets in our own solar system, Earth and Venus. Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
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December 20, 2011
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Kepler mission has discovered the first Earth-size planets orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system. The planets, called Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are too close to their star to be in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface, but they are the smallest exoplanets ever confirmed around a star like our sun.

The discovery marks the next important milestone in the ultimate search for planets like Earth. The new planets are thought to be rocky. Kepler-20e is slightly smaller than Venus, measuring 0.87 times the radius of Earth. Kepler-20f is slightly larger than Earth, measuring 1.03 times its radius. Both planets reside in a five-planet system called Kepler-20, approximately 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra.

MORE: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-390&cid=release_2010-390&msource=11390&tr=y&auid=10047609


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