Our home away from home is too far away it seems. A return journey might not be a possibility. However, could it be worth a risk to venture out that far into the universe? While NASA scientists continue to fascinate us with exciting, awe-inspiring revelations – claiming there are, roughly, a billion Earths in the Milky Way – it might not be practical or even possible to venture out to these unexplored territories.
NASA confirmed the discovery of the first near-Earth-size planet around a Sun-like star. They now call it the Kepler 452b, the Earth’s close cousin that would “feel a lot like home.”
It’s safe to assume that some of these planets could support life, including technological civilizations, and perhaps some of these worlds have occupants with far more advanced technology than humans — Kepler 452b and other potentially habitable worlds listed in the NASA database are too far away from us.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration stated the Kepler-452b, named after the telescope that spotted it, is orbiting a G2-type star located 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. It is older than Earth, roughly 6 billion years old, and it has 385 days a year.
Kepler 452b orbits its own Sun at the same distance as Earth, which means, it is located within the so-called Goldilocks zone (Circumstellar habitable zone) — or the region within a solar system that can support liquid water. Like Earth (and the ancient Mars), planets in a Goldilocks zone can offer not too hot, or too cold, but just right condition for liquid water and some ice to exist.
The main takeaway is that the Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the Goldilocks zone. NASA’s Jon Jenkins said humans could potentially survive the 452b’s stronger gravity.
NASA Science Mission Directorate associate administrator John Grunsfeld said the discovery of 452b brings us “one step closer” to finding Earth 2.0.
He adds, “Kepler-452b is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth and is considered a super-Earth-size planet.”
The new planets just rocky wastelands?
While the mass and composition of the planet are not yet determined, Mr. Grunsfeld said planets the size of Kepler 452b have a good chance of being rocky.
In a Washington Post article, NASA scientist Natalie Batalha reveals that based on ‘conservative estimates,’ about 1 billion rocky planets are orbiting G stars, or stars similar to our Sun — but there are 14 billion potentially habitable worlds that are orbiting M, K and G dwarf stars.
The New Horizons spacecraft is currently the fastest spacecraft ever to leave Earth — it still took the spacecraft nine years to reach Pluto. And that too was possible only thanks to Plutonium which powered us all the way to Pluto.