The last 10 days have been filled with excitement at NASA, first Pluto’s closest approach and now, the discovery of a new planet that seems to have similar characteristics to our very own planet Earth, Kepler-452b, the smallest planet discovered planet orbiting in the habitable zone, becoming confirmed planet number 1,030.
1,400 light-years away is located the Kepler-452 system, within the constellation Cygnus where NASA discovered Kepler-452b, a planet which most closely resembles the Earth, “This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.”, said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, quoted at NASA’s official press release.
What is now considered as a “super-Earth-size planet” has been determined that measures 60% more than Earth, with an orbit of 20 Earth days longer, only 5% longer than Earth’s orbit and also 5% further from its parent star, Kepler-452. It is located in a “habitable zone”, which means it is at certain distance where liquid water could pool the planet’s surface.
Kepler-452b orbits around Kepler-452 a sun-like star that is 1.5 billion years older than our sun, it is also 20% brighter and 10% larger in diameter, but has the same temperature of our sun. Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA stated that Kepler-452b can be considered “as an older, bigger cousin to Earth”, providing information on how the Earth might evolve.
Jenkins also said, “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.” An interesting declaration that can lead to the question… Could there be life in this newly-discovered planet?