Information regarding a new "Twin Earth" could be revealed at a press conference hosted by NASA at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) Thursday, April 17.
The Kepler Space Telescope has made another important new discovery, details of which will be published in the journal Science, though publication is being delayed until after the press release.
For five years, since its launch on March 6th 2009, the telescope has been searching for signs of other habitable planets. The information it has provided has been unprecedented, revealing a whole new neighborhood in our galaxy apparently brimming with new worlds. Many of these are potential new Earths located in the so-called "habitable zone", while others which are totally unlike any of the planets in our solar system.
"This is the biggest haul ever,” said co-leader of the research study, Jason Rowe from the NASA Ames Research Centre. Over 1,200 planetary systems have been studied, and 715 planets validated. All the new worlds are members of multiplanet systems—stars with more than one orbiting satellite.
The press conference is hosted by a team of experts comprising Douglas Hudgins, an exoplanet exploration program scientist from NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washingto, research scientist Elisa Quintana from the SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., Tom Barclay, research scientist, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ame, Victoria Meadows, professor of astronomy at the University of Washington, Seattle, and principal investigator for the Virtual Planetary Laboratory, a team in the NASA Astrobiology Institute at Ame.
We will all be waiting with anticipation to hear the details of the latest study - the public is invited to listen to the teleconference live on UStream at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-arc and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2
Audio of the teleconference also will be streamed live at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio
Questions can be submitted on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA.
A link to relevant graphics will be posted at the start of the teleconference on NASA's Kepler site: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
There is still so much to learn about our universe, and exciting discoveries are constantly being made. One of the latest finds is a new, planet-like object, discovered by scientists Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington and Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii.
The scientists reported details of their find in the science journal Nature, revealing that the object lies more than 7 billion miles away from the sun and could be a new dwarf planet.
They have christened it "Biden", a rather catchier name than its official title of 2012 VP-113, though its resemblance to the vice president is not clear!
The relatively small object is just 280 miles (450km) in diameter, compared to Earth which is 7,900 miles (12,713km) across, and has a temperature of minus 430 degrees; its composition is not yet known but it is likely to be totally ice-bound.
The astronomers are hoping that Biden can provide them with new information about the birth of the solar system, though it may take a couple of years to determine its full significance.
“It goes to show that there’s something we don’t know about our solar system, and it’s something important,” Trujillo told Nature. “We’re starting to get a taste of what’s out beyond what we consider the edge.”
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Subscribers can read more insights from Whitley Strieber on this fascinating subject in "Doorway to Other Worlds"