Thursday, February 3, 2011

NASA's Kepler Telescope Finds Plenty of Planets Outside Solar System

Very Awesome.

An orbiting NASA telescope is finding whole new worlds of possibilities in the search for alien life, including more than 50 potential planets that appear to be in the habitable zone.

In just a year of peering out at a small slice of the galaxy, the Kepler telescope has spotted 1,235 possible planets outside Earth's solar system. Amazingly, 54 of them seem to be in the zone that could be hospitable to life -- that is, not too hot or too cold, Kepler chief scientist William Borucki said.

Until now, only two planets outside Earth's solar system were even thought to be in the "Goldilocks zone." And both those discoveries are highly disputed.

Fifty-four possibilities is "an enormous amount, an inconceivable amount," Borucki said. "It's amazing to see this huge number because up to now, we've had zero."

The more than 1,200 newfound bodies are not confirmed as planets yet, but Borucki estimates 80 percent of them eventually will be verified. At least one other astronomer believes Kepler could be 90 percent accurate.

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