NASA Telescope Confirms Alien Planet in Habitable Zone
by Mike Wall, SPACE.com Senior Writer
Date: 05 December 2011 Time: 11:12 AM ET
This artist's conception illustrates Kepler-22b, a planet
known to comfortably circle in the habitable zone of a sun-like star.
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
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.
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