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Another Earth?

The Kepler spacecraft just discovered the most Earth-like exoplanet yet. It’s like a bigger, older cousin to our planet. And it’s orbiting in the habitable zone of a sun-like star! Additionally there’s a good chance it could have a rocky surface and liquid water.

Meet Kepler-452b:


This artist’s concept compares Earth (left) to the new planet, called Kepler-452b, which is about 60 percent larger in diameter.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Kepler-452b is slightly larger than Earth – about 60% larger in diameter. Interestingly, its year is very similar to Earth’s – 385 days to our 365. It’s about 5% further away from its parent star than we are from ours. The star itself is 1.5 billion years older than our sun (which has been around for about 5 billion years). It’s slightly larger and brighter but the same temperature.

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment,” said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who led the team that discovered Kepler-452b. “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

Read more about this discovery in the NASA press release.

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