NASA Discovers Most Earth-Like Planet Yet

In a former Higher Learning Post we discussed how the Kepler missions have successfully identified hundreds of potential Earth-size planets that have a “Goldilocks” distance orbit from their stars.

“Goldilocks” -orbit distance is not too hot/close to star and not too cold/far from star

In a space agency briefing earlier this month, NASA announced that they have identefied the most Earth-like planet yet. The planet is known as Kepler-186-F, and according to Dan Vergano from National Geographic the planet has,

“Red sunshine, seas, and maybe aliens? Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope today report the closest thing yet to another Earth, a world in a habitable orbit around a red dwarf star some 493 light-years away.”
Kepler-186-F according to National Geographic is “1.1 times wider than Earth” and “the mass is 1.5 times that of Earth”. Also the planet’s solar system consists of five planets that orbit a red dwarf star.
According to pioneering planet hunter Geoff Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley,
“This is an historic discovery—the first Earth-size planet found in the habitable zone around its star. This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found.”
Although the planet has a very simialar size to Earth, the planet’s red dwarf star is about half the size of our Sun. Kepler-186-F makes up for having a smaller star by having a tighter orbit cycle that is only 130 days.
It is not certain what type of atmoshper the planet has, but scientists are optimistic that although the planet may be cooler and dimmer than Earth the planet is still warm enough to prevent seas from freezing.

The Kepler spacecraft is still on the lookout for new discoveries, and scientists continue to analyze data as we continue our search for other habitable planets in our galaxy.

Check out the full post by Dan Vergano from National Geographic Here.

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