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This artist's concept compares Earth (left) to the new planet, called Kepler-452b, which is about 60 percent larger in diameter. (Photo Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)

NASA announces new discovery of “another Earth”

NASA’s Kepler Space Telesope, in search of planets containing life, made “major new discoveries” on its 6-year mission which ended on Thursday.

Scientists have announced the discovery of planet Kepler-452b which shares similar characteristics with our planet. About 1,400 light years away from Earth, this planet is in another solarsytem. This Earth 2.0, as it has been nicknamed, is approximately 60% larger than our Earth and orbits a star an estimated 1.5 billion years older than the sun.

Its orbital lenght is 385 days, nearly the same as the Earth’s. It is also suspected to have a solid, rocky surface. Scientists have confirmed that it is the most Earth-like planet discovered so far.

From its location and age is possible that life may have developed on Kepler-452b, provided there are “all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life”, according to lead analyst Jon Jenkins of the NASA Ames Research Center.

NASA also announced the discovery of another 11 Earth-sized planets, however Kepler-452b is the only one which orbits something resembling our sun.

Small habitable zone planets within our galaxy are called exoplanets and were first discovered 20 years ago. The habitable zone refers to the distance from its star which determines the likelyhood for the existence of liquid water.

 

Elisabeth Brahier

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