NASA telescope finds 10 more planets that could have life

20 June, 2017, 00:36 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • An artist's impression of a new planet

The findings come courtesy of NASA's pioneering Kepler space telescope, our eye in the sky when it comes to spotting potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system.

The new planets' existence must still be double-checked.

Even more remarkable than the sheer number of planets discovered is the method by which Kepler discovered them.

The Kepler telescope has added several hundred new candidate exoplanets to its stable of 4034, including 10 that are near-Earth-size, in orbits that would allow liquid water at the surface.

Humanity hasn't done a ton of good in our short stint on Earth, though we've definitely succeeded at turning this planet into a trash pit of despair. The gravity of a smaller super-Earth may not be strong enough to hold onto hydrogen; if it's close to its star, the hydrogen may get blasted away.

"There are now 4,034 planet candidates identified by Kepler", NASA said in a press statement.

"It feels a bit like the end of an era, but actually I see it as a new beginning", Thompson said. "It's awesome, the things that Kepler has found". 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. K2, which has found over 100 different exoplanets so far, was started as a way to give the telescope a second life after Kepler suffered multiple mission-threatening technological setbacks. It has shown us these terrestrial worlds, and we still have all of this work to do to really understand how common Earths are in the galaxy.

For the first four years, Kepler observed part of the constellation Cygnus.


This is the eighth release of the Kepler candidate catalog, gathered by reprocessing the entire set of data from Kepler's observations during the first four years of its primary mission.

Ten of the new discoveries were orbiting their suns at a distance similar to Earth's orbit around the sun, the so- called habitable zone that could potentially have liquid water and sustain life.

These planets are usually 1.6 times the size of Earth, with rocky terrain.

Some exoplanets closely resemble Earth and are a few of the best places to look for alien life.

A follow-up study, described today by astronomer Benjamin Fulton of the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, fine-tuned the size measurements for some 2000 Kepler planets using the Keck telescopes in Hawaii. More than 30 of those have been verified, NASA said.

"This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy's most compelling questions - how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?" said Susan Thompson, Kepler research scientist for the SETI Institute.

The Kepler Space Telescope is still in space, with limited motion working on the K2 mission.

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