NASA will host a media event today unveiling new discoveries made by planet hunting Kepler Space Telescope.
Has NASA found another earth? This question hounds space fans since early this week when NASA announced a media event to talk about new Kepler Space Telescope discoveries.
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The telescope's mission is to hunt for exoplanets. The first exoplanet orbiting another star like our sun was discovered in 1995. Exoplanets, especially small Earth-size worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago.
Today the Kepler exoplanet count stands at 4,661 Candidates, 1,028 Confirmed and 11 Small Habitable Zone Confirmed. It is unclear at this time what NASA will announce today. It could be a sensation that will interest the world or just news that will be of interest for astronomers.
NASA announces Kepler-452b, Earth's bigger, older cousin. Kepler-452b is the first near-Earth-Size planet in the habitable zone of a star very similar to the sun.
Scientists do not know if Kepler-452b can support life or not. What is known about the planet is that it is about 60 percent larger than Earth, placing it in a class of planets dubbed "super-Earths." While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a better than even chance of being rocky. Kepler-452b orbits its star every 385 days
The participants include John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, Jeff Coughlin, Kepler research scientist at SETI Institute in Mountain View, California and Didier Queloz, professor of astrophysics at Cambridge University, United Kingdom.
Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission to detect Earth-size planets orbiting distant stars in or near the habitable zone -- the range of distances from a star in which the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might sustain liquid water.
NASA weaves into the announcement a sentence that reads: "Astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years -- another Earth."
Is this a hint to a surprising announcement tomorrow? We will have to wait, but can start dreaming about a new Earth.
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