NASA has some sort of big news their going to share tomorrow morning –23/7/2105- coming from the kepler telescope.
Earth like planet?!
NASA’s Kepler mission launched in 2009 with the goal of finding a planet that, like our own, can sustain life. Since water is an essential component of life, the mission aimed to search for an exoplanet that has liquid water on its surface.
The ideal candidate would be a planet that is not too close to the star it orbits, risking water evaporation from heat, or so far that the water would simply freeze. Much like Earth, the planet has to be a safe distance from its sun.
Kepler has been searching for this Earth-like body in what scientists call the «habitable zone,» a region near stars were orbiting planets could potentially support the existence of water. Since its launch, the mission has found over a 1,000 planets, the majority of which more closely resemble Jupiter in our Solar System — gas planets that are much larger than Earth.
However, on Wednesday, the space agency hinted it may have found the most similar planet to Earth yet.
«Exoplanets, especially small Earth-sized worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago,» NASA’s press release said. «Today, thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years – another Earth.»
NASA is set to announce its findings at a news conference on Thursday, but the statement has already spurred predictions of a new planet capable of sustaining life. Space enthusiasts and journalists have taken to Twitter to express their anticipation over the upcoming announcement.
«Today we’re announcing the discovery of an exoplanet that as far as we can tell is a pretty close cousin of the Earth. It’s the closest so far,» NASA’s science chief John Grunsfeld said. «It’s Earth 2.0.»
While not exactly Earth’s twin, the newly discovered planet bears some resemblance to our planet’s place in the solar system. The planet completes its orbit around its sun-like star every 382 days, just 17 more days than it takes Earth to orbit the sun, meaning that its year is only slightly longer than ours.
«It would feel a lot like home, from the standpoint of the sunshine you would experience,» Jon Jenkins, Kepler’s data analyst said.
Lying roughly 1,400 light years away from Earth, Kepler-452b is about 60% wider than Earth, and scientists estimate that it could be 1.5 times larger than our own planet, making it not so much an Earth twin as a «super Earth.» Its size has also led NASA to believe that the planet could possess a very thick atmosphere, and may have a very rocky surface covered with lots of water and active volcanoes.
Mission scientists also put the planet’s sun-like star at 6 billion years old, making it a full 1.5 billion years older than the sun in our solar system. The star’s older age could make it 10% larger than ours and a full 20% brighter. As such, NASA says, Kepler-452b can give somewhat of a preview of Earth’s future as our own sun ages. «Kepler-452b could be experiencing now what the Earth will undergo more than a billion years from now, as the sun ages and grows brighter,» Doug Caldwell of the mission’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) said. «If Kepler-452b is indeed a rocky planet, its location vis-à-vis its star could mean that it is just entering a runaway greenhouse phase of its climate history,» he explained. «The increasing energy from its aging sun might be heating the surface and evaporating any oceans. The water vapor might be lost from the planet forever.»
(Νέο μήνυμα στην Ελλάδα έστειλε ο αστροναύτης της NASA Σκοτ Κέλι, μέσω Twitter).