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Planets, planets, everywhere!

February 4, 2011

Recently, the Kepler mission announced the discovery of an additional 54 planets which may have conditions suitable for the origins of life.

This was part of a slew of 1,200 new worlds already discovered by Kepler in just the first half of its 3 ½ year NASA mission.

6 planets orbiting Kepler 11 star

Image: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

But what really caught the eye was the  star Kepler 11,  which had a mini solar system all packed within the radius of the orbit of  Venus!

6 planets, in fact, are known to circle Kepler 11, 5 within the orbit of Mercury alone, and all with comparable Earth-size masses.

“The fact that we’ve found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting sun-like stars in our galaxy,” said William Borucki of the Kepler mission.

So the odds are stacked that we might soon find an Earth-analogue out there and wonder whether life exists on that planet as it does here on our world.

From → Space

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