BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The hunt for life on other planets has some new contenders after the discovery of more than 700 new worlds by NASA.
Alex DeMetrick reports some might be a lot like Earth.
Even up close, life on Earth doesn’t always jump out at you. It takes the dark to really stand out, provided your ride is the International Space Station.
But there are worlds orbiting other stars in the Milky Way. Even thousands of light years away…
“We actually detect the transit of the planet. So the planet moves in front of the star, and that means a little bit of the starlight is blocked out. So the star dims,” said Dr. Michelle Thaller, Goddard Space Flight Center.
That dimming has been caught by the Kepler Space Telescope. Currently suffering mechanical problems, it has nevertheless collected years worth of data.
Pouring over it, NASA scientists have now confirmed 715 new planets in our galaxy.
“Of the 715 that were announced today, there are four of them that are about the size of Earth in about the same distance away from their star. That would make it the same temperature as the Earth is,” Thaller said.
It’s called the Goldilocks Zone–neither too hot to boil off water, nor too cold to make it a frozen ice world. And like earlier possible candidates for life discovered by Kepler, the four new worlds are larger than Earth.
What these new worlds lack is detail, especially the possibility of life.
“All we know is size and distance. We don’t know whether there are oceans or anything like that. At least it’s a start,” said Thaller.
That the next generation of space telescopes might continue.
Later this decade, the James Webb Telescope will try to detect the chemicals of the new worlds and whether they have the building blocks of life.
The Kepler Telescope has found quite a few planets. The 715 newest worlds bring the total to 1,700 planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy.
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