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NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers 54 Inhabitable Planets

NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers 54 Inhabitable Planets

The oceans are warming and we’re running out of oil to power our homes and cars. If humans maintain their “business as usual” attitude, the Earth will become a pretty harsh place to live over the next 20 years.

That’s why a recent NASA discovery of over 50 new planets that could support life is a particularly bright spot in the otherwise gloomy forecast for the human race.

On Wednesday, NASA scientists reported that “the Kepler mission has discovered 1,235 possible planets, including 54 in the ‘Goldilocks range’ — just far enough from their stars to be neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water” (LA Times).

“The fact that we’ve found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting sun-like stars in our galaxy,” said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center, the mission’s science principal investigator. “We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone, some of which could have moons with liquid water.”

The Kepler mission was specially designed to survey a portion of our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover dozens of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets.

“In one generation we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction, to the present, where Kepler has helped turn science fiction into today’s reality,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Kepler, a space telescope, looks for planet signatures by measuring tiny decreases in the brightness of stars caused by planets crossing in front of them. This is known as a transit.

Since transits of planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars occur about once a year and require three transits for verification, it is expected to take three years to locate and verify Earth-size planets orbiting sun-like stars.

Learn more about the Kepler’s search for habitable planets here.

Related Reading:
Giant Leap Backward: Stop NASA’s Radiation Experiments
NASA Researchers Discover Unique, Arsenic-Based Lifeform
NASA Cancels Radiation Experiments On Monkeys

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Image Credit: NASA

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104 comments

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5:28PM PDT on Apr 24, 2013

Great!! So humans can start their assault on those ones too...

8:52PM PDT on Oct 12, 2011

Reality check:

The technology that would be required to survive extended space travel, let alone reach ANY planet outside our solar system would have to be so advanced that our space ships would BE their own miniature worlds.

I think it's far more likely that once we begin exploring the stars that planets will act more as locations where we can stop for a visit, but we'll be living on our "planet ships" full time.

4:46PM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

This is definitely something to think about. I think that, even if we do get our population under control, there's still the desire to explore the stars, and part of that is finding inhabitable planets. There's also the possibility of space colonies, too.

Am I the only one that feels like we're on the cusp of something amazing?

5:51PM PST on Mar 10, 2011

I'll go....

10:26AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

Its not over population. Mismanagement.

1:40PM PST on Feb 19, 2011

I have signed the petition at http://www.millionforabillion.com/ and I encourage everyone to sign.

The petition aims to boost U.S. and international funding for family planning and reproductive health care, which can help to combat poverty and help the environment. Please consider forwarding this petition to friends!

1:38PM PST on Feb 19, 2011

I agree with Brian M that humanity should restrain its numbers and demands on nature. We should plan to avoid crises. Population, pollution and overconsumption are major issues.

1:36PM PST on Feb 19, 2011

Interesting - but let us not give up on this planet just yet!

12:15PM PST on Feb 15, 2011

And as soon as man would get to a new planet, he would destroy it too ...

10:07AM PST on Feb 15, 2011

No matter planets in our galaxy support life, the only planet we have is this one. If we don't properly manage our population size and our resources as well as reduce our pollution, then our species will go extinct.

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