Kepler may have found the closest analog to our earth, says NASA

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Kepler mission, a planet-hunting probe at NASA is closely observing a new planetary candidate, KOI 326.01. KOI 326.01 is nearly earth-sized with a normal temperature lower than the boiling point of water. Kepler mission is a statistical study of planet distribution. The study has also found out earth-like planets out of nearly 1,235 planetary candidates and if the recent study proves to be accurate, KOI 326.01 would be the closest analog to our earth, found till date. Kepler mission’s chief researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center, William Borucki says "It's a small object, a small candidate," But, as of now astronomers don’t have clear idea about the size of the star which KOI 326.01 is orbiting, making the study "extremely difficult to confirm, while the next few months observation might produce sufficient data for confirmation," said Borucki. MIT's Sara Seager, a Kepler team-member, explained that the mission costing $600 million on planet-hunting is merely a drop in the ocean to find out the existence, frequency and life- prospects of these planets. "The reality is that one telescope cannot answer all three questions," said Sara Seager.

NASA’s Kepler Telescope

NASA’s Kepler telescope is positioned on the constellation Cygnus, and observes around 150,000 stars. Kepler can grasp the planet orbiting its star as it would block the light the star emits, for a moment. With this simple equation of planets orbiting their stars, many puzzles like mass, radius, planet-star proximity could be calculated by Kepler Telescope. On the grounds of these statistical observations, out of 150,000 stars, 44 percent have planets, revolving around them, said Borucki.

While Searger clarified that Kepler spacecraft was specifically designed to learn to get data for a statistical study of planet distribution, it therefore can’t fulfill the aspirations of astrobiologists. She further added that "Kepler never promised to say, 'That star has the Earthlike planet in an Earthlike orbit,"

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Kepler may have found the closest analog to our earth, says NASA

This article was published on 2011/02/25