NASA Has Discovered Earth 2.0 – Earth's Bigger, Older Cousin!
Two decades ago, the idea of planets orbiting other stars was speculative, if not simply science fiction. Today, however, the Kepler Telescope has discovered approximately 1,934 planets outside of our own solar system. Among those planets is Kepler 452b, a planet whose discovery was announced this afternoon in a press conference. What makes Kepler 452b so interesting is that it is roughly the size of the Earth, rocky, in its star's habitable zone, and its star is remarkably similar to ours.
452b is about 60% larger than the Earth and orbits its star, Kepler 452, at approximately the same distance as we do from the Sun. The planet is 430 parsecs from the Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Kepler 452 is slightly brighter than the sun, being a slightly older star.
From 2009 to 2013, the Kepler spacecraft has been watching a small patch of the night sky for stars that dim slightly and then return to their normal brightness. Those slight, brief decreases in the starlight indicate a planet moving across the face of the star.
So far, 1,000 planets are confirmed, but there are still 4,660 candidates.
The big question is: could this planet support life? The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute sought to answer that question. SETI astronomers have listened for signals from extraterrestrials in the Kepler 452 star system, using the Allen Telescope Array in northern California but without any luck so far.
Who knows? Maybe it will harbor life. Maybe it's a candidate for colonizing. Only time will tell.