Thread: News from NASA
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Old Feb 2 2011, 04:13 PM   #1
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Default News from NASA

This caught my eye (posted one hour ago, Feb 2, 2011)

The U.S. space agency NASA has made a groundbreaking discovery in the search for alien life, with the finding of more than 54 potential life-supporting planets.
NASA officials released four months of data Wednesday from the Kepler planet-finding telescope. In a discovery scientists are calling “amazing,” the telescope found 1,200 new possible planets, and hundreds of new multi-planet systems.
Chief scientist William Borucki says planets are considered inhabitable if they are not too hot or cold and could have liquid water. He said the discovery of life-supporting planets marks great progress for the Kepler mission.
The findings of the telescope could triple the number of known planets, but scientists said confirming whether the masses are actual planets could take years. The data found more planets the size of Earth or smaller — rather than giant planets like Jupiter.
Another major, yet unexpected, find, includes a six-planet solar system located about 2,000 light-years away from Earth. Its the biggest solar system ever found, topping a previous Kepler discovery of a 3-planet system.
Kepler was launched into space in 2009 to find planets that could support life. The telescope is pointed at an area of more than 150,000 stars in a part of the Milky Way galaxy.
Jonathan Fortney, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told VOA the findings are “exciting” because researchers did not really know what to expect the telescope to find.
Kepler tracks potential new planets near the Cygnus constellation by watching for the dimming of sun-like stars, which indicates an object is passing by.
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