Planets that may sustain life identified


NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has been able to locate 219 new planets outside our solar system.

Out of those located, 10 have the potential for hosting life, scientists announced Monday.

Kepler, which began its journey in 2009 by orbiting the sun, was tasked to find planets by looking for stars in the Cygnus constellation that dimmed.

Dimming occurs when a planet passes over the face of a star, however, some planet candidates identified by Kepler have turned out to be stars or other phenomena.

So, in order to be considered suitable for life, they await a rigorous confirmation process, which may eliminate some of the potential candidates.

However, since its beginnings, Kepler has located “2,335 confirmed planets orbiting a star other than the Sun – more than 80 percent of the total found by all the world’s observatories combined,” according to Traci Watson, reporter for USA Today.

The spacecraft won’t be there long though. Kepler suffered a mechanical failure back in 2013 that put a stop to its planet-finding mission, but it still continues to turn in and go over data.

Monday’s announcement at the NASA briefing when Kepler’s newest batch of information was divulged will probably be its last, according to scientists.

“Yeah, it feels a bit like the end of an era but, actually, I see it as a new beginning,” Susan Thompson, of the SETI Institute, said at a NASA briefing Monday. “It’s amazing the things Kepler has found … I’m really excited to see what people are going to do with this catalog.”

With space travel at its peak, the development of “candidate” planets that hold the environment for life is an exciting prospect.

Space exploration is more than just discovering new things, it’s about explaining things back home as well.