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NASA detects new three planets in 'habitable zone'


Artists' rendition of Kepler-62f, with Kepler-62e shining to the right (courtesy: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech)
Artists' rendition of Kepler-62f, with Kepler-62e shining to the right (courtesy: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech)

Staff writers

April 18, 2013 — NASA has discovered a planetary system containing three planets that may be suitable to life.

Artist rendition that demonstrates the relative sizes of the habitable zone planets. Left to right: Kepler-22b (discovered in December 2011), Kepler-69c, Kepler-62e, Kepler-62f, and Earth (courtesy: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech)
Artist rendition that demonstrates the relative sizes of the habitable zone planets. Left to right: Kepler-22b (discovered in December 2011), Kepler-69c, Kepler-62e, Kepler-62f, and Earth (courtesy: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Kepler telescope has discovered three super-Earth-size planets that appear to be in the habitable zone, a distance from a star that makes it theoretically possible for the planet to maintain liquid surface water.

The discovery was made in the Kepler-62 planetary system, which has five planets total.

The planets have been named Kepler-62e, which is roughly 60% larger than Earth, 62f, which is 40% larger and 69c, which is 70% larger than our planet.

Kepler-62 is estimated to be 7 billion years old. It is located about 1,200 light years away in the constellation Lyra.

Scientists aren't sure if life could exist on these planets, but their findings could bring them closer finding a planet similar to Earth.

"The Kepler spacecraft has certainly turned out to be a rock star of science," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in a statement.

"The discovery of these rocky planets in the habitable zone brings us a bit closer to finding a place like home. It is only a matter of time before we know if the galaxy is home to a multitude of planets like Earth, or if we are a rarity."

The Kepler telescope is designed to sniff out Earth-like planets by measuring and analyzing the brightness of more than 150,000 stars.


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