NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers New Habitable Planet
NASA’s Kepler Mission announced the discovery of a newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b. Kepler-22b is located 600 light years away, and is 2.4 times the radius of Earth. It orbits a star similar to our sun, and is the smallest found to orbit in the middle of a habitable zone. Though the planet is larger than Earth, its orbit is only 290 days. Scientists have yet to find out Kepler-22b’s composition, whether it is rocky, gaseous or liquid.
Of the 54 habitable planet candidates reported in February 2011, Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed. The discovery of Kepler-22b brings NASA one step closer to finding Earth-like planets. The planet’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.
Kepler is NASA’s 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters.