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NASA Says Recently Discovered Planets Are Most Earth-Like Yet

by Brandon Russell | April 21, 2013

earth-like-planet-concept

Researchers have discovered what’s being considered the most Earth-like planets ever, orbiting in that rare Goldilocks Zone of their parent stars. If scientists are correct, and data from NASA’s Kepler mission is on the money, these three planets, located 1,200 and 2,700 light years from Earth, respectively, could contain liquid water, and maybe even life.

We’ve seen a lot of reports recently describing Earth-like planets quietly idling way out there in the great abyss. Right now, scientists believe there are thousands out there, just waiting to be discovered. The three recently discovered planets, known as Kepler-62f, Kepler-62e and Kepler-69c, are just the latest researchers consider to be in that so-called habitable zone.

According to Dimitar Sasselov, who recounted the discovery in the latest issue of Science, described what the environment might be like on these distant Earths. “Kepler-62e probably has a very cloudy sky and is warm and humid all the way to the polar regions,” Sasselov said. “Kepler-62f would be cooler, but still potentially life-friendly.”

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The two planets, which coexist in a five-planet system, are not only noteworthy because of their distance to their parent star, but because of their size as well. Smaller planets (such as Mars) are typically more rocky, io9 explained, and less gaseous. Both 62f and 62e are roughly the same size as Earth.

“The discovery of these rocky planets in the habitable zone brings us a bit closer to finding a place like home,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA. “It is only a matter of time before we know if the galaxy is home to a multitude of planets like Earth, or if we a rarity.”

Considering everything we’ve discovered over the past few months alone, it seems unlikely Earth is all that rare, especially given the size of the universe. But, who knows, maybe Earth is that rare. It really makes you appreciate what we humans have going here.

io9

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...