23 July 2015

Kepler 452b, the most Earthlike world yet discovered

Here's what's currently available on Kepler 452b, at 1400 l.y. distance in the Kepler field of view, announced today. It's a super-Earth, but it's squarely in its 6 billion year old sunlike star's habitable zone, so some kind of life on its surface is certainly a possibility.


This information comes from data processing of the data that accumulated by the Kepler mission, which ended over a year ago due to a communications failure, and which only covered a tiny fraction of the sky. ​Given its phenomenal success, I certainly hope NASA develops plans to launch more and better planet finder missions in the near future. I would go so far as to say that it's just one of the basic things a technological civilization does. It surveys its surroundings to see what else there is in its environs. We can already sample wide areas of space for eclipsing planetary systems, which gives a statistical sample of what's out there (only a small fraction of planets transit the surfaces of their stars as seen from Earth, which is necessary for really long range detection).

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