NASA telescope finds 10 more planets that could have life

NASA centre

NASA centre

Ten of those exoplanets appear to be similar to the size of the Earth and orbit their stars in the habitable zone - just far enough away to develop water, but not so far that they freeze.

It's important to note that NASA's rules for what defines a "planet" are incredibly exacting.

NASA announced the latest findings in its hunt for friendly exoplanets on Monday, and the haul includes 219 new candidates.

The result: 4,034 exoplanet candidates.

NASA on Monday announced the Kepler space telescope team has released a catalog with 219 new planet candidates, including 10 which are near-Earth size and in their stars' habitable "Goldilocks" zone.

Of particular note in this newest batch is KOI-7711, which could be a close cousin to Earth based on its size and distance to its sun-like star.

Like Kepler, TESS will use a transit method for observing planets as they pass in front of their parent stars. "Intermediate-size planets between these two size groups are relatively rare".

The Kepler spacecraft is an observatory that was launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II on March 7, 2009.

Additionally, since it would have a very similar orbit to Earth around a fairly Sun-like star, it would likely rotated, just as Earth does, and not be tidally-locked (with one side always facing the star). In about a decade, NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST, will be able to image these planets for the first time. That doesn't mean the planets have life, but some of the most basic requirements that life needs are there, upping the chances for life. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article. Today, a team of astronomers working with data from the K2 mission released a new catalog of potential alien planets.

These other missions - such as TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, in 2018 and the James Webb Space Telescope later on - will continue the search for life beyond Earth.

"We like to think of this study as classifying planets in the same way that biologists identify new species of animals", said Benjamin Fulton, doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and lead author of the second study.

These planets are usually 1.6 times the size of Earth, with rocky terrain. "Finding two distinct groups of exoplanets is like discovering mammals and lizards make up distinct branches of a family tree". And It's an important distinction to make, because Neptune-sized planets are nearly always inhospitable to life as we know it. "I would only want to live on one of those", said Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist. "It's fantastic the things that Kepler has found", Thompson said. This is certainly the week for exploring such ideas, however, during the Kepler Science Conference, which runs from June 19-23, at NASA's Ames Research Center in California. "It has shown us these terrestrial worlds, and we still have all this work to do to really understand how common Earths are in the galaxy".

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