A lot like home: meet 'Earth 2.0'

By Lindsay de Freitas
24 July 2015

Nasa’s Kepler spacecraft has spotted a planet which they describe as "Earth's bigger, older cousin".

The planet, dubbed Earth 2.0, appears to be Earth’s twin with conditions which scientists say “would feel a lot like home.” “Today the Earth is a little less lonely because there is a new kid on the block,” said Jon Jenkins, data analysis lead for Nasa’s Kepler spacecraft which found the planet, which is officially called Kepler 452b.
'We won't be going to this planet but our children's children's children might be'
  The spacecraft has been roaming the galaxy looking for new planets outside of our solar system since May 2009. So far they have found more than 4000 planets which, like Earth, have the right temperature to sustain life, meaning that they are neither too far from or too close to their energy source . Planets like these have been dubbed "Goldilocks planet" -- because they're not too hot or too cold.

But Kepler 452b is the first of the new discoveries to be confirmed as a planet and according to Nasa it is the “closest” to Earth that has ever been seen.

The planet, Kepler 452b, is estimated by Nasa to be six billion years old, roughly 1 400 light-years from Earth and situated in the Cygnus constellation.

It's about 60% bigger than Earth and is located in its solar system’s habitable zone where liquid water could possibly exist. It is slightly further from its ‘sun’ than Earth is but it’s sun is brighter so the temperature and light would be very similar to what we experience on Earth. According to Jon Jenkins, "If you travelled to this star with an arkful of plants...the plants would photosynthesise just perfectly fine. It would feel a lot like home from the standpoint of the sunshine.”

NASA scientist concur that the planet most likely has a rocky surface, a force of gravity twice that of Earth’s and "almost certainly has an atmosphere."

The task set out for the Kepler spacecraft is to find rocky planets between half and twice the size of Earth where water could exist on the surface. Because liquid water is so critical to life on Earth, scientists believe that the search for habitable planets or extra-terrestrial life should focus on planets where liquid water occurs. Kepler 452b could very well be one such planet.

"We won't be going to this planet but our children's children's children might be," says Jeff Coughlin, Kepler research scientist "It's a very long term goal but a very exciting one."

SOURCES: cnn.com, telegraph.co.uk

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