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Another Earth

(Artist's rendering courtesy NASA)

(Artist’s rendering courtesy NASA)

NASA announced yesterday that the Kepler space telescope has found the most earthlike exoplanet yet:

“Today, Earth is a little less lonely,” Kepler researcher Jon Jenkins said.

The planet, Kepler-452b, is about 1,400 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. It’s about 60% bigger than Earth, NASA says, and is located in its star’s habitable zone — the region where life-sustaining liquid water is possible on the surface of a planet.

A visitor there would experience gravity about twice that of Earth’s, and planetary scientists say the odds of it having a rocky surface are “better than even.”

While it’s a bit farther from its star than Earth is from the sun, its star is brighter, so the planet gets about the same amount of energy from its star as Earth does from the sun. And that sunlight would be very similar to Earth’s, Jenkins said.

The timing is perfect, having just gotten our first high resolution images of the last planet in this solar system.