NASA Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-like Star

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has one mission and one mission only... to find planets, stars, and other celestial bodies in the habitable zone. The habitable zone refers to the region around a star where a planet of Earth-like size, composition and atmospheric pressure can maintain liquid water on its surface. As we know, liquid water is essential for all forms of life to exist, so any planet consisiting of it is fairly promising to host extraterrestial life! You might also have heard of the Habitable Zone referred to as the Goldilocks Zone (being "just right" for life and all)

Kepler Mission (NASA Discovery mission #10) is made to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover as many Earth-sized and smaller planets that they can. From there they can determine just one small chunk out of the billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets. Crazy!!

While the Kepler mission has discovered THOUSANDS of planets and stars yet to be confirmed, the biggest buzz right now is around the habitable zone known as the Kepler-22 system. This system contains a G-type star (known as Kepler-22a) which is in the same class of our sun, but not as hot. Out of all the planets under investigation in this system, NASA has CONFIRMED that there is at least one Earth-like planet that has the largest probability of containing liquid water and therefore, LIFE!

This Earth-like Planet known as Kepler-22b is 2.4 times the size of Earth, but it is still the smallest yet found in the middle of the habitable zone! Although the planet is bigger than Earth, its orbit is only 290 days around its star. Being located 600 light-years away means that not much is yet known about the planet, but it definitely is a possibility that SOME form of life is squirming on it.

I hope that once more is discovered about this planet, they decide to give it a new name that suits its characteristics. I'm not quite down with naming it after the telescope that they viewed it with and shoving some numbers at the end. To me, planets are living, breathing celestial bodies, that need a real name.

So what do you think? Do you think there is life on this planet? Do you think its still bacteria, bugs and fish? Perhaps you feel that its more advanced to a species with human-like intelligence? If so, is sending out communication waves possible? What do the species on Kepler-22b call their planet, and how old is it? Very interesting stuff!

Resources: "NASA's Kepler Mission Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-like Star." . NASA, 05 Dec 2011. Web. 6 Dec 2011. (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepscicon-briefing.html).

"Kepler Spacecraft and Instrument." . NASA, n.d. Web. 6 Dec 2011. (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/spacecraft/index.html)

 

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