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New Earth Cousin Discovered
Updated April 18, 2014 7:10 AM | Filed under: Science
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(UNDATED) - NASA says one of it's space telescopes has found a planet that, from a distance, appears to be similar to the earth.

The planet has been given the name Kepler 186-F after the Kepler space telescope which found it as part of it's observation of a fixed location in the Milky Way.

"They saw this multiple planet system - this is the fifth planet in it - and they actually saw that it is sitting in what is called the "habitable zone", meaning not too cold and not too hot. It's roughly the size of the earth," said Brian Murphy, director of Butler University's Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium.

The planet is slightly larger than the earth, and it's host star is slightly smaller than our sun. But NASA says it's distance from that star is the key.

"That's why we suspect, given that size, it probably could support liquid water, which is needed for life," Murphy said.

That cannot be confirmed by Kepler, which is currently broken, but Murphy says other observations using other telescopes are possible, including the James Webb telescope - NASA is scheduled to launch it within the next three years.

"That will have the capability of perhaps imaging this object, and not just seeing it indirectly but perhaps getting some light from it," Murphy said. "From that we can tell whether it actually has water in its atmosphere and whether it actually has an atmosphere habitable for life."

Kepler 186-F is about 490 light years from the earth, but it is still within our galaxy.

Murphy says it is only the beginning of what we have to learn about other possible planets similar to ours.

"We already know there will be about 200 billion planets in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and we will find a lot more planets in the habitable zone."



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