On Monday, December 3, NASA’s Kepler space telescope discovery team discovered a planet 600 light years away that perplexingly resembled Earth, with its 72-degree temperature and 60% water content. The planet, named Kepler-22b, lies in the habitual zone, the zone at which it is possible to contain life and water, in a distant galaxy. The planet is 2.4 times the radius of Earth, and has a nearby star that greatly looks like Earth’s sun. The structure of Kepler-22b resembles that of Earth, as it has an orbit of 290 days around this nearby star.
Douglas Hudgins, a program scientist at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, said in a statement that this discovery is “a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin.” He also says, “Kepler’s results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA’s science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.” On December 5-10, the Kepler team is hosting an inaugural science conference to announce the 1,094 new planet candidate discoveries. They will discuss the Kepler-22b to see if it qualifies with the three planet transits to be considered a planet. NASA’s team will definitely continue to probe Kepler-22b for more details.