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According to the latest report by NASA released in the course of June 2017, there is proof of approximately 219 planets just outside the earth’s solar system. NASA affirmed that ten of newly discovered planets resemble Earth’s size and their stars orbit in the habitable zone that is far enough for them to develop water, yet close enough to avoid freezing. The discovery is yet to be confirmed, but if confirmed, the planets will be added to the small and growing list of Earth sized planets occupying earth’s corner of the Milky Way galaxy.
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The potential discoveries of planets are part of the last catalog of results that was released from the first ever Kepler space telescope assignment. Kepler, which has been surveying the Cygnus constellation for almost eight years now from 2009 has enabled scientists to find approximately 5,000 potential exoplanets in some sky area that is 3,000 light-years beyond Earth. However, this latest announcement by NASA has brought down the possible planets to around 4,034. 2,335 of these planets have been confirmed as exoplanets, among which 21 are Earth sized planets orbiting in their star’s habitable zones. Earth sized planets are of interest to scientists as they can help explain how the Earth as a planet was formed, and their chances of potentially supporting life.
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NASA used Kepler in finding Earth sized planets and exoplanets, determining their mass, size and the time they took to go around their galaxy. The last catalog released by the NASA’s Kepler team is the best and most accurate in the information relayed regarding the confirmed Earth sized planets and exoplanets. With the Kepler mission complete, the information found can then be divided into two, Super-Earths and mini-Neptunes. super-Earths are rocky planets that are approximately 1.5 times the size of earth whereas mini-Neptunes are gassy planets more than 2.5 times the size of earth. The new mission should help make a distinction between the two to determine which ones are hospitable/inhospitable to life. The accuracy of the information found will determine whether scientists can make further studies in the future. Reliable information will aid scientists in developing promising lists for powerful telescopes to study in the future.