NASA’s Kepler telescope discovers three new planets in ‘habitable zone’
Scientists on Thursday announced that NASA’s Kepler satellite telescope had found three new planets that may be the best hopes yet of hosting life outside of Earth.
According to NPR, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute research scientist Thomas Barclay said that the planet most like Earth orbits Kepler-69, which he described as a “sun-like star.”
That planet is “around 70 percent bigger than Earth, so what we call super-Earth-sized,” Barclay said. “This represents the first super-Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a star like our sun.”
Two other planets were found to be orbiting Kepler-62, a dimmer star. Kepler-62f was thought to be about 40 percent larger than Earth and possibly rocky. Kepler-62e appeared to be 60 percent larger than Earth and could be a tropical “water world” with no land masses.
Although it’s unlikely that an advanced society exists the on Kepler-62e, Space.com noted two habitable worlds so close together created some interesting possibilities.
“With no land masses and no chance for fire, it’s hard for us to visualize how any intelligent inhabitants could build a technological society on a totally oceanic world, but imagine for a moment growing up on a planet from which you could see the lights of cities on another,” Space.com’s Dave Brody explained. “Surely, that would give you good reason to build spaceships.”
Watch this video from Space.com, broadcast April 18, 2013.