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By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/19/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Kepler telescope expected to discover more habitable worlds.

Scientists have discovered three new planets which they believe could be quite similar to Earth. Studying data from the Kepler mission, scientists say they have located three earth-like planets more than 1,000 light years away.

An artist's rendition of the Kepler Telescope.

An artist's rendition of the Kepler Telescope.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/19/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: planets, smallest, life, Kepler, telescope, search


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists have discovered three earth-like planets orbiting distant stars using the Kepler space telescope. Now that they can reliably locate such planets, it is believed more will soon be discovered.

Two of the planets, Kepler 62e and Kepler 62f were announced in the journal Science. A third, Kepler 62c was announced in the Astrophysical Journal.

The three planets are close to the Earth in size, ranging from 40 to 70 percent larger than the Earth. They orbit their parent stars around the habitable zones, which is the zone around a star where liquid water can exist.

This means that the planets could potentially harbor life.

Unfortunately, they are so distant from Earth, it won't likely be possible to assess if they have life anytime soon.

That's different for closer stars.  Now that scientists have refined their methods for detecting earth-like planets around other stars, they can start looking at closer systems for them. The next generation of telescopes will be able to discern the individual planets around these stars and even perform analysis of their atmospheres. Which gasses make a planet's atmosphere can be determined by the light that is absorbed by molecules in their atmospheres. Scientists can learn this by studying the light that passes through their atmospheres.

What gasses are present in the atmosphere matter because they can carry the telltale signs of life.

New telescopes will look for small, rocky planets in the habitable zones of nearby stars. Scientists suspect that earth-like planets will be surprisingly common and that a number of them will feature habitable conditions. However, just because a planet is habitable, doesn't mean life follows.

Humans will not likely ever be able to travel to such worlds distant worlds, however we could still answer age-old questions about the possibility of life on other planets by studying these distant worlds.

The discovery of life on another planet would teach us that we are not alone in the universe and could forever change our approach to science and astronomy.

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