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Surprising Science

What has NASA’s Planet-Hunter Telescope Found?

NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space observatory has already identified more than 1,200 planetary candidates and tomorrow NASA will announce a new discovery by it.

What’s the Latest Development?


NASA will tomorrow announce a new discovery by its Kepler planet-hunting telescope in a press conference featuring astronomers and—oddly—a representative of visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm Ltd. Kepler, an Earth-orbiting space observatory was launched in March 2009 to seek an Earth-sized planet orbiting within the “habitable zone” of its star that would enable it to support liquid water, and possibly life.

What’s the Big Idea?

The number of confirmed alien planets now stands at more than 600, bolstered by the announcement on Sunday of 50 newfound alien worlds by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). More than 50 new exoplanets — including one “super-Earth” that could potentially support life — have been discovered using data from the HARPS spectrograph in Chile.


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