(CBS SF) — NASA’s Kepler Mission may have found our cousin with the confirmation of the first Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star.
The newly discovered Kepler-425b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in an area around a star, like our sun, where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.READ MORE: COVID Vaccines: Contra Costa Drop-In Sites End Frustration Among Those Struggling To Find Appointments
Scientists who analyzed four years of data from the mission also introduced 11 other new small habitable zone planets on Thursday.
“On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.”
Kepler-452b, located 1,400 light years away, is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth and has a good chance of having a rocky surface.READ MORE: Armed Bike Thieves Targeting Cyclists in the East Bay Hills
The Kepler space telescope identifies potential planets by observing dips in the brightness of stars. Confirmation of their planetary status usually requires observations by other instruments that look for slight shifts in the system’s sun.
So far, the famed telescope has found 1,030 planets.
On Monday, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced he’ll bankroll the most comprehensive search ever for signs of intelligent life in outer space.
His project “Breakthrough Listen” is being called a “dream come true” by scientists at the SETI Research Center in Berkeley, where the cash will buy extra observation time at two powerful radio-telescopes and plenty of specialized electronics to analyze data at Berkeley and elsewhere.MORE NEWS: COVID Reopening: San Francisco Allows For Small Indoor Gatherings Among Fully Vaccinated
Nicole Jones is a digital producer for CBS San Francisco. Follow her musings @nicjonestweets