NASA says its Kepler Mission has discovered an earth-size planet similar to our own. The new discovery, called Kepler-452b orbits around a sun-like star.
While it is the smallest planet to be discovered in habitable zone – the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet – scientists believe they are on the right track to discovering a planet with similar properties to earth.
“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 at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
“This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.”
The planet has a 385-day orbit and is only 5% farther from its star than earth is to its sun.
“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.