Thursday, 22 December 2011

Two more Earth-sized planets - Kepler-20e, Kepler-20f spotted

NASA, like we've been reporting, has been throwing some fabulous discoveries with its Kepler mission. On its last quest, Kepler managed to dish out a planet called Kepler-22b, which reportedly is similarly sized as Earth; only located 600 light years away; orbiting a star.

The newly discovered, Earth like-sized planets
The newly discovered, Earth-like sized planets

Now, NASA confirms that Kepler has returned with proof that there are two more, Earth-like sized planets, located outside our solar system. Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, the two planets discovered have been found orbiting around a star, much like our own (Sun). Kepler-20e has a radius of .87 times that of Earth, making it smaller than Venus, albeit slightly. Kepler-20f, on the other hand, has a radius of 1.03 times the radius of Earth. Describing the planets further, NASA states, "Both Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f circle in close to their star, called Kepler-20, with orbital periods of 6.1 and 19.6 days, respectively."

However, despite coming close in terms of size, Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f may not be exactly habitable. Both the new planets, although have rocky surfaces like Earth, are reportedly characterized by really hot temperatures.

For those who're not in the know of this, here's a little piece of detail. NASA's Kepler mission has been on the lookout for planets that are habitable, just like our home planet. Describing the aim of this mission on their website, NASA states, "Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the "habitable zone," the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of an orbiting planet."

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