Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kepler Confirms First Earth-like Planet.

There is a sweet-spot that a planet needs to be orbiting in to be considered a 'habitable' planet... it is referred to as the Goldilocks Zone, because it is not too hot and not too cold... perfect, just like our home here on Earth. 
The Kepler science team has recently announced that out of the 1,235 planets discovered since last February, there are 54 that fall within this zone and the first of the 54 to be officially confirmed is a planet called, Kepler-22b
Before you start packing you bags to make the trip... first remember that you are NOT an astronaut and second Kepler-22b is about 600 light-years away. Which means that if you traveled at the speed of light it would still take 600 Earth years to get there (duh!)
It takes 290 days to orbit around its star, Kepler-22, a G-class star a lot like the one we know best. “It’s almost a solar twin; it is very similar to our sun,” Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead at San Jose State University, said in a press conference. The planet is about 15 percent nearer to its star than Earth is to the sun. But this is OK because the star is cooler (by about 220 degrees), a bit dimmer, and a little smaller than our star. So the planet is in a really analogous Earth-like orbit. The planet’s temperature is even pretty close to Earth’s, said William Borucki, the Kepler mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center. “If greenhouse warming on this planet was similar (to atmospheric warming on Earth), its surface temperature would be something like 72° F,” he said.


via popsci

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