NASA discovers over 1,200 new planets

The Kepler telescope has found more than 1,200 new exoplanets -- several of which that may be "Earth-like."

By Scott Stenholm - Editorial Producer, Larry King Now 

NASA just can't stop blowing our minds these days.  The Kepler space telescope continues to beam back evidence that the universe is not only vast but rich with planetary worlds. 

On Tuesday, the space agency announced that the Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets – making it the single largest finding of planets to date.

“This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA Headquarters. “This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth.” 

An article posted on Tuesday noted that, "Analysis was performed on the Kepler space telescope’s July 2015 planet candidate catalog, which identified 4,302 potential planets. For 1,284 of the candidates, the probability of being a planet is greater than 99 percent – the minimum required to earn the status of 'planet.' An additional 1,327 candidates are more likely than not to be actual planets, but they do not meet the 99 percent threshold and will require additional study. The remaining 707 are more likely to be some other astrophysical phenomena. This analysis also validated 984 candidates previously verified by other techniques."

"Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy. Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars,” said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters. "This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever-closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe."

Image credits: NASA/W. Stenzel

Last year during an appearance on Larry King Now, Dr. Nick Siegler, Technology Manager for NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program, explained to Larry that there are over 200 billion planets in our galaxy alone -- including several that are "Earth-like." He also says that the odds are “so high” that life exists on at least one of these planets.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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