NASA Discovers 219 New Planets with Kepler Mission; 10 Are Earth-Size


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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has discovered 219 new planets with the Kepler mission and has identified that 10 of them are Earth-size.

Reuters/Mike TheilerSpace Telescope Science Institute astronomer Nikole Lewis uses a graphic to compare the size of Earth

NASA recently announced on Twitter that they have “identified 219 potential new worlds.” They also encouraged those who have questions about their discoveries to go ahead and ask them, with the hashtag #askKepler.

The Kepler mission was launched in 2009, and since then, NASA has been observing more than 200,000 stars to seek exoplanet candidates. The mission started by observing the constellation of Cygnus. But in 2014, Kepler expanded the search to other parts of the galaxy.

Program scientist Mario Perez shared on Monday at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California that 10 out of the 219 new discovered exoplanets were about the size of Earth, CNN reported.

Those 10 exoplanets are potentially rocky and orbit within the habitable zone of stars, which means that there could be liquid water on their surfaces, Perez added.

“The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near-Earth analogs: planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth,” said the program scientist.

Including their newest discoveries, Kepler has now discovered 4,034 planet candidates. 2,335 of them are exoplanets, and 50 exoplanet candidates are close to the size of Earth.

Kepler’s newest data suggests that the smaller exoplanets found fall under two divisions, those that are Earth-size and those that are gaseous mini-Neptunes. This classification helps the researchers at NASA identify which of them are potentially habitable and which are devoid of life.

NASA will be creating a final catalog of all the planet candidates that will help researchers determine which of them are Earth-size and should be continuously observed by space telescopes.

Kepler research scientist Susan Thompson said, “It’s amazing, the things that Kepler has found. 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. I am really excited to see what people are going to do with this catalog.”



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