Is this where humankind will be living in a couple millenia? In a solar system 600 light years away spins the newly-spotted Kebler 22-b, a rocky planet with oceans covering two-thirds of its surface, and balmy temperatures approximating 70 degrees. The Herald Sun reports on the greatest hope for a replacement Earth:
A newly discovered planet about 600 light years from our little rock has scientists around the world in a spin, with many heralding it as the best chance yet of containing alien life.
The find, announced early last week by NASA, was uncovered by the US space agency’s Kepler spacecraft, launched on a planet-hunting mission in 2009.
The planet, Kepler-22b, is 2.4 times bigger than Earth, orbits a star slightly smaller than our sun and has an average temperature of 22C. It is also closer to its sun-like star, giving it a “year” of 290 days.
What makes this discovery so exciting is that it is the smallest planet right in the middle of what has been dubbed the Goldilocks zone, where it’s not too hot and not too cold to either boil or freeze water, vital for life as we know it.
“It’s very exciting,” said University of Sydney astronomer Dennis Stello, who works on the Kepler project. “This is the first time we have actually found such a small planet in the habitable zone.”