NASA’s half a billion dollar Kepler telescope mission launched in March of 2009, with the primary goal being to answer the question: “What fraction of the stars you see in the night sky have planets that are not only Earth-sized, but also lukewarm in temperature, allowing water to exist in liquid form?” (liquid water is one of the biological prerequisites for life)
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.