NASA telescope finds 10 more planets that could have life

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With the addition of this latest release, Kepler has now identified 4,034 planet candidates, and 2,335 of them have been confirmed as exoplanets.

Those 10 exoplanets are potentially rocky and orbit within the habitable zone of stars, which means that there could be liquid water on their surfaces, Perez added.

Seven of the Earth-size planets circle stars that are just like ours, not cool dwarf ones that require a planet to be quite close to its star for the right temperature. But in 2014, Kepler expanded the search to other parts of the galaxy.

It's too early to know how common potentially habitable planets are in the galaxy because there are lots of factors to consider including that Kepler could only see planets that move between the telescope vision and its star, said Kepler research scientist Susan Mullally of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.

Between Kepler and other methods, scientists have now confirmed more than 3,600 exoplanets and found about 62 potentially habitable planets.

The findings were compiled from data gathered during the first four years of the mission, which scientists processed to determine the size and composition of the planets observed.

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Kepler was launched in 2009 but its initial mission was completed in 2013 due to a breakdown of its gyroscopes. The original mission took a small sample of the sky in the Cygnus constellation to act as a sort of statistical survey. The telescope scanned 150,000 stars in the Swan constellation and was by far the most fruitful.

Before Kepler was launched, astronomers had hoped that the frequency of Earth-like planets would be about one per cent of the stars.

One of the research groups was able, thanks to the data provided by Kepler, to make precise measurements of thousands of planets.

Although the Kepler mission has yet to fulfill one of its goals, which is determining the fraction of sun-like stars hosting Earth-like planets in our galaxy, these data will help astronomers determine that number in the next few years, the researchers said.

Meanwhile, Kepler research scientist, Susan Thompson, stated that the Kepler mission has found fantastic things. Benjamin Fulton, an astronomy student who has analyzed data from the Kepler mission, points out "Super Earths" and "Mini Neptunes" have not been found in the Milky Way (Earth's solar system).

The James Webb Space Telescope will be able to look at targets discovered by K2 in some detail, and it will be able to focus on at least 10 exoplanets in great detail.