NASA may have just found the closest thing to an Earth-like planet in the Universe.
In its announcement for the press conference, NASA suggested it could be about to reveal the discovery of “another Earth.”
It said: “The first exoplanet orbiting another star like our sun was discovered in 1995. Exoplanets, especially small Earth-size worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago. Today, and thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years – another Earth.”
The fact that NASA is holding a press conference on the news, rather than it being released to the public via research papers as has often been the case in the past, suggests that the mission may have discovered a candidate that even more closely resembles our own planet.
The US space agency is holding a press conference tomorrow, July 23rd, to reveal the latest discoveries of its exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope. The scope, launched in 2009, seeks out planets that reside in the habitable zone, known colloquially as the Goldilocks zone. Planets in this location orbit their star at a safe enough distance to potentially host liquid water on their surface. The majority of the planets identified by Kepler have been giant gas planets, akin to Jupiter in our own Solar System, with only eight being less than twice Earth’s size and in the Goldilocks zone. It’s suspected that the NASA announcement could confirm the identification of the most Earth-like planet to date.
“Exoplanets, especially small Earth-size worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago. Today, and thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years — another Earth,” a NASA release teases, before confirming that Kepler’s data analysis lead Jon Jenkins and Kepler research scientist Jeff Coughlin would be in attendance.
“We’re now closer than we’ve ever been for finding a twin for Earth,” astronomer Fergal Mullally of the Kepler Science Office said earlier this year.