In what is lauded by NASA to provide significant implications for the search for life, the space agency has revealed its latest discoveries in other parts of the universe by way of ten rocky planets similar to Earth.
This means there are now 219 new suspected planets beyond our own solar system. Those additional 10 are located in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ of their solar system. This simply indicates they are neither overly proximate to their star nor too distant. From this, it can be surmised that the 10 rocky planets are neither too hot or too cold for liquid water to be available.
It is the presence of water that plays a key role in a planet’s ability to sustain life.
Finding exoplanets, or simply planets outside our solar system could pave the way for scientists to discover whether there is life in other parts of the universe. NASA announced in a tweet that scientists using @NASAKepler have found and identified 219 potential new worlds.
With those new discoveries, there are now over 4,000 suspected exoplanets found by the Kepler space telescope.
Susan Thompson, a research scientist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, says this meticulously defined catalog of discoveries forms the foundation to find a direct answer to one of the most compelling questions in astronomy regarding the number of Earth-like planets in the galaxy.
The SETI Institute has been searching for signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. The SETI scientists do their work by attempting to find radio signals that exhibit some form of intelligence.
To date, there is now a total number of 4,034 potential planets that Kepler has identified. Of that total, 2,335 have been identified as exoplanets. Interestingly enough, around 50 have been verified to be roughly the size of Earth and are candidates for being habitable zones that Kepler has detected. More than 30 of the 50 have been defined.
Why is the discovery critical?
In light of the discovery of the ten Earth-like planets, it should enable man to find habitable zones. This is considering how the great Stephen Hawking himself has warned that we are running out of space on our own planet so we need to break through the technical limitations that have prevented us from establishing habitats in other areas of the universe.
Professor Stephen Hawking spoke at a press conference in London, which served as a sneak peek for the Starmus science and arts festival that took place in Norway in June 2017. During his speech, the renowned English cosmologist, theoretical physicist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, reiterated his warning that finding new or alternative habitation beyond Earth is the key to human survival. If mankind is to colonize other planets, there is no better time to start than now.