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NASA One Step Closer To Finding Earth’s Twin

NASA One Step Closer To Finding Earth’s Twin

On Monday, researchers announced that they are one step closer to finding  Earth’s twin. NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the “habitable zone,” the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface.

With the global population rushing past 7 billion earlier this year, space for human development on the Earth’s surface is becoming a valuable commodity. Just in case we can’t slow our exploitative behaviors in time to save this planet, scientists at NASA are already hard at work looking for a suitable substitute elsewhere in the universe.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don’t yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but say that its discovery is encouraging.

“This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin,” said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Kepler’s results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA’s science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.”

While it is the only Kepler discovery to be confirmed, 22b certainly isn’t the first planet that could possibly support human life in the future. In February the Kepler mission discovered dozens of planets in the habtiable zone.

“The tremendous growth in the number of Earth-size candidates tells us that we’re honing in on the planets Kepler was designed to detect: those that are not only Earth-size, but also are potentially habitable,” said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead at San Jose State University in California. “The more data we collect, the keener our eye for finding the smallest planets out at longer orbital periods.”

Since 22b is over 600 light-years away, it will be some time before we have the technology to transport the materials and people it would take to build a civilization there. In the mean time, we should probably find a way to keep from destroying the Earth we’ve got.

Related Reading:

New NASA Video Provides Peek At Life On Mars

NASA Researchers Discover Arsenic Based Life Form

Tour The Solar System At Near Light Speed [Video]

Image: Artist’s conception of Kepler-22b

Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

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145 comments

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6:31PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

Great article! Earth probably has many "sisters"....
i want to go HOME!
And for those of you who believe that we should rather fix our own planet,,,there is some merit to this, although we needed to work on that WAY before now!!! (as some of us have been doing since a long time...not enough though!) Much of Humanity has proven to be fairly immature and slow to react....!
Starseeds and starchildren are here for the purpose of helping earth and humanity transcend....
She will, eventually, but.......................................................................

1:42PM PST on Dec 12, 2011

Oh, please. So typical of society: run away from an issue rather than address it.

8:27AM PST on Dec 10, 2011

Oh thank God! A safety valve! Now I can look forward to spending my final days on a hunk of metal hurtling through darkness and danger! Garden the planet.

2:13AM PST on Dec 10, 2011

Its better to learn how to save humanity and our earth

1:50AM PST on Dec 10, 2011

Don't think it will help me.

8:55PM PST on Dec 9, 2011

All you need to save planet Earth is birth control...the one thing governments and the church will not tackle.

8:02PM PST on Dec 9, 2011

Maybe this could be the answer to golf courses on Machu Pichu!

4:41PM PST on Dec 9, 2011

relax, humans will never be able to live on this planet. It may sustain life but it would be too hot and we couldn't even adapt to it via evolution before it killed us.

10:13AM PST on Dec 9, 2011

Humanity deserves only one planet, we should not be allowed to ruin another if we screw up this one. While I'm interested in learning about life on other planets, I do hope humanity is never able to launch a successful trip to this or any other habitable planet. Still, I don't think we'll ever be able to develop the technology to travel that far.

10:02AM PST on Dec 9, 2011

Such a cool news story!!

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