NASA Finds Earth's 'Older Cousin'

Kepler-452b has NASA scientists excited
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2015 12:44 PM CDT
An artist's rendering of the newly discovered planet.   (NASA)

(Newser) Kepler-438b, move over for Kepler-452b. The latter is the name of a planet newly discovered by the Kepler space telescope that is now the most Earth-like one NASA has found so far, reports the BBC. It's about one and a half times the size of Earth, and orbits a star at a similar distance as the Earth orbits the sun—putting it in a zone that is theoretically habitable for life, reports CNN. Astronomers, however, would need to get close enough to measure its mass to determine whether it's a contender for life, an impossibility for now given that it's 1,400 light-years away, explains the New York Times. It's in the constellation Cygnus, and scientists say the odds that it has a rocky surface are "better than even."

"We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment," says Jon Jenkins of NASA's Kepler team in a statement. "It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

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