NASA's Kepler Space Telescope Just Discovered 2 New Earth-Like Planets
NASA's alien-hunting Kepler Space Telescope confirmed 104 new exoplanets, and two of them might be a lot like Earth.
Of the newly discovered exoplanets, one planet system in particular has caught scientists' attention. The planet system is made up of four rocky planets a little larger than Earth, all orbiting around a dwarf star called K2-72 about 181 light-years away.
All the planets are in a tight orbit around the star, but the star is much smaller and dimmer than our sun. According to NASA, two of the planets are at the right distance from the star to experience radiation levels similar to Earth. Therefore, they might be capable of supporting life.
This discovery is part of Kepler's K2 mission. The telescope is surveying large chunks of the sky for 80 days at a time to try and identify exoplanets and other cosmic objects.
"This bountiful list of validated exoplanets from the K2 mission highlights the fact that the targeted examination of bright stars and nearby stars along the ecliptic is providing many interesting new planets," Steve Howell, project scientist for the K2 mission, said in a statement. "These targets allow the astronomical community ease of follow-up and characterization, providing a few gems for first study by the James Webb Space Telescope, which could perhaps tell us about the planets' atmospheres."
The James Webb Space Telescope will launch in 2018 and will be capable of studying exoplanets up close. We might get closer to identifying ones that are capable of hosting life.