10 new planets that could have life discovered

Wrapping up this chapter of the mission adds another 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and orbiting in the habitable zone - the band of space around their star where it is just warm enough for liquid water to exist on the surface of a planet.

Kepler has already discovered 4,034 potential exoplanets, 2,335 of which have been confirmed by other telescopes as actual planets.

A Kepler mission scientist said, for the first time, there is at least one planet that nearly matches the Earth.

The Kepler team found that planets which are about 1.75 times the size of Earth and smaller tend to be rocky, while those two- to 3.5 times the size of Earth become gas-shrouded worlds like Neptune.

Illustration depicting a sample of the many planets discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescope.

To ensure a lot of planets weren't missed, the team introduced their own simulated planet transit signals into the data set and determined how many were correctly identified as planets. The result is that this final catalog should be the most accurate ever released by the Kepler team. "Both results have significant implications for the search for life", NASA reports. But Kepler's ability to find and confirm exoplanets and rocky Earth-size planets also provides candidates for future observation by space telescopes. That planet is situated around the closest star.

Temperatures Climbing Inland as Deserts Brace for 120-Degree Heat
Also, area waterways are running very cold and fast, increasing risk for hypothermia and drownings. These high temperatures are caused by an aptly named weather phenomenon: " heat domes ".

"Most of the planets in the first group may be akin to the Earth, with rocky surfaces and little to no atmospheres".

"We like to think of this study as classifying planets in the same way that biologists identify new species of animals", said Benjamin Fulton, doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and lead author of the second study.

Speaking about the discovery Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington said: "Answering the question "are we alone" is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal". "It sharpens the dividing line between potentially habitable and not habitable".

The original Kepler mission launched in 2009 and was completed in 2012.

Kepler performs its mission by gathering extremely stable observations of distant stars, and watches for when the light from those stars dims, due to a solid object (most likely a planet) passing between the telescope and that star. Two of the telescope's four reaction wheels had failed - one in 2012, and one in 2013 - and at least three are needed to properly aim the telescope. Scientists with the mission expect that Kepler's K2 mission will continue until sometime in 2018. The talk among scientists at a Kepler conference in California this weekend is that it is closer to 60 percent, he said. "I would only want to live on one of those", said Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist. In the mid-2020s, we have our sights on taking a picture of small planets like Earth with our Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

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