Michelle Reed


Fri, 24 Jul, 2015

Has NASA discovered a second “Earth”?

Has NASA discovered a second “Earth”?

We might not be alone in the universe, according to NASA’s most recent findings.

According to news released early Friday, astronomers have discovered an “Earth-like” planet within the galaxy.

Using the Kepler Space Telescope, NASA has been on a mission to find new planets. Finally, NASA has found a potentially habitable world, which here means that the planet, titled Kepler-452b, orbits a star similar to our sun and can support water… and therefore, potentially, life.

The Kepler telescope, which was launched in 1995, has so far discovered over 1000 planets.

“The first exoplanet orbiting another star like our sun was discovered in 1995,” NASA said in a recent statement.

“Exoplanets, especially small Earth-size worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago.”

Now, Kepler-452b was found 1400 light years away from Earth, in a constellation called Cygnus. According to Daniel Hubour, a doctor of the University of Sydney who is working on the Kepler mission, this planet differs from the 1000 other planets found due to its long orbiting period and the star around which it orbits. 

"Kepler-452b has similar characteristics to our sun, which makes finding a planet with an orbital period similar to Earth in this system very exciting," Dr Huber said. "It is the first time we have found such a planet."

One year on Kepler-452b lasts 385 days, similar to that of planet Earth. The planet is 60 per cent larger than ours and the presence of its atmosphere is yet to be determined.

"The system is too distant to determine whether it has an atmosphere, so we don't know if it has the right conditions to harbour life," Dr Huber said.

"We have a curiosity to find out whether we are alone. What is our place in the galaxy and the universe? Finding out more about exoplanets is Kepler's key mission. We want to find out how abundant Earth-like planets are."

"Kepler has shown us that exoplanets are abundant," Dr Huber said. "Now we just need to find if any are supporting life."

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