Say Hello to Kepler-452b, Earth’s Closest Cousin

Kepler-452b_artist_conceptWhat a time for NASA! First we received those amazing shots of Pluto from the New Horizon, and now the agency is announcing the discovery of an earth-like planet 1400 light years away. Currently named Kepler-452b, the planet orbits a G-type star (the same class as our sun) and sits within the habitable zone, or “Goldilocks” zone, making it ideal for sustaining life. The planet is about 1.5 times the size of earth and around 5% further from its star than earth is to our own. It orbits its star every 385 days, meaning its orbit is very similar to our own. The terrain is believed to be mountainous with significant volcanic activity (meaning greenhouse activity). Yet the conditions also exist for potential photosynthesis, due to 452b’s star delivering a similar amount of sunshine. To quote one panelist, “It’s the closest thing we have to a place that somebody else might call home.”

NASA has released some artist renderings of what 452b may look like, as well as charts comparing its situation to our own on earth. All of this is so freakin’ cool, despite the fact that its distance from our home being so far that technology could not allow for much more exploration of the planet’s actual details. Truth be told, I am fine with being dependent on scientific models to build the potential case for life as it is one more step in the direction of understanding that we are not alone in the universe! I mean holy shit, the possibilities from today’s announcement are simply beautifully dumbfounding! Keep the details coming NASA!!!

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v2-keplertelescopeFollow Tom on Twitter @thomaskagar

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