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Topic: NASA Ames Research Center

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope provides additional data on system with 7 Earth Size Planets

 

Written by Michele Johnson
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On February 22nd, astronomers announced that the ultra-cool dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, hosts a total of seven Earth-size planets that are likely rocky, a discovery made by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope in combination with ground-based telescopes.

NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also has been observing this star since December 2016. Today these additional data about TRAPPIST-1 from Kepler are available to the scientific community.

This illustration shows the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets as they might look as viewed from Earth using a fictional, incredibly powerful telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets as they might look as viewed from Earth using a fictional, incredibly powerful telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Scientists explain how they Search for Habitable Planets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – There is only one planet we know of, so far, that is drenched with life. That planet is Earth, as you may have guessed, and it has all the right conditions for critters to thrive on its surface. Do other planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, also host life forms?

Astronomers still don’t know the answer, but they search for potentially habitable planets using a handful of criteria. Ideally, they want to find planets just like Earth, since we know without a doubt that life took root here. The hunt is on for planets about the size of Earth that orbit at just the right distance from their star – in a region termed the habitable zone.

This artist's concept shows a Super Venus planet on the left, and a Super Earth on the right. Researchers use a concept known as the habitable zone to distinguish between these two types of planets, which exist beyond our solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ames)

This artist’s concept shows a Super Venus planet on the left, and a Super Earth on the right. Researchers use a concept known as the habitable zone to distinguish between these two types of planets, which exist beyond our solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ames)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Discovers New Double-Star Planet Systems

 

Written by Michele Johnson
NASA Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – While long anticipated in both science and science fiction, the existence of a circumbinary planet — a planet orbiting two stars – like “Tatooine” portrayed in the film Star Wars more than 30 years ago, was not definitively established until the discovery of Kepler-16b, announced in September 2011.

Using data from NASA’s Kepler mission, astronomers announced the discovery of two new double-star planet systems – Kepler-34 and Kepler-35 – at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas, January 8th-12th, 2012.

A New Class of Planetary Systems: This artistic rendition depicts the Kepler-35 planetary system. In the foreground, Kepler-35b, a Saturn-size world orbits its host stars every 131 days. (Image credit: © Mark A. Garlick / space-art.co.uk)

A New Class of Planetary Systems: This artistic rendition depicts the Kepler-35 planetary system. In the foreground, Kepler-35b, a Saturn-size world orbits its host stars every 131 days. (Image credit: © Mark A. Garlick / space-art.co.uk)

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NASA Discovers First Earth-size Planets Beyond Our Solar System

 

Written by Michele Johnson
NASA Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffet Field, CA – NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered the first Earth-size planets orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system. The planets, called Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are too close to their star to be in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface, but they are the smallest exoplanets ever confirmed around a star like our sun.

The discovery marks the next important milestone in the ultimate search for planets like Earth. The new planets are thought to be rocky. Kepler-20e is slightly smaller than Venus, measuring 0.87 times the radius of Earth. Kepler-20f is a bit larger than Earth, measuring 1.03 times its radius. Both planets reside in a five-planet system called Kepler-20, approximately 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra.

This chart compares artist's concept images of the first Earth-size planets found around a sun-like star to planets in our own solar system, Earth and Venus. (Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

This chart compares artist's concept images of the first Earth-size planets found around a sun-like star to planets in our own solar system, Earth and Venus. (Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Kepler Confirms First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-like Star

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the “habitable zone” of a distant sun-like star.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don’t yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets1.

The “habitable zone” of a planetary system refers to the band of orbits where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler has recently discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets.

This artist's conception illustrates Kepler-22b, a planet known to comfortably circle in the habitable zone of a sun-like star. (Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

This artist's conception illustrates Kepler-22b, a planet known to comfortably circle in the habitable zone of a sun-like star. (Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

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