Discovered Nasa announces discovery of new planet seen as 'close cousin' to Earth

The astonishing development is based on the observations of the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope which has been scanning the Milky Way for Earth-like planets since 2009.

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Nasa scientists have announced the discovery of a “close cousin” to the Earth with an atmosphere that could contain water and therefore potentially sustain extra-terrestrial life.

The astonishing development is based on the observations of the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope which has been scanning the Milky Way for Earth-like planets since 2009.

The telescope had hitherto found more than 1,000 potential planets but panel of four eminent scientists revealed the existence of Kepler 452B - a planet described as Earth’s “close cousin” some 1,400 light years away.

  Nasa This artist's concept depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452

The planet, which is about 60 per cent larger than Earth, is the first to be found in a comparable “habitable zone” to our planet in terms of its distance from its “star”, which is also of a comparable size to the sun.

Nasa said it was still assessing the data from the telescope but there was a “better than even chance” that the Kepler 452B was rocky and the temperatures would be right for the generation of water, “the essential ingredient for life as we know it”.

The scientists said they did not yet know if the planet was supporting life but added that the sunlight from its star, which is estimated to be about six billion years old and some 1.5 billion years older than the sun, was comparable to that experienced on the Earth.

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment," said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who led the team that discovered Kepler-452b.

"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.”

Nasa said the planet would have a gravity force twice that of Earth and a year would last 385 days.

In a statement, the agency said: “Scientists do not know if Kepler-452b can support life or not. What is known about the planet is that it is about 60 per cent larger than Earth, placing it in a class of planets dubbed "super-Earths."

“While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a better than even chance of being rocky.” Kepler 452B, or Earth 2.0

Source: The Independent

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