NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Discovers Alien ‘Super Earth’ 180 Light-Years Away
Call it the comeback of the year.
Last year, equipment failure caused NASA to deem its $600-million Kepler space telescope irreparable. But since then, astronomers and engineers devised an ingenious way to repurpose Kepler, whose mission has been to scour the cosmos in search of Earthlike planets.
And now, the planet-hunting probe not only has been reborn, but also has discovered a massive exoplanet some 180 light-years away.
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Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Kepler spacecraft hunting for planets in its second mission, K2.
The planet, HIP 116454b, is a “super Earth” with a diameter 2.5 times the diameter of Earth. It orbits a star a little cooler and smaller than our sun, located in the Pisces constellation. The planet is too close to its star to support life as we know it, according to NASA.
Super Earths are in a class of planets that don’t exist in our solar system, and HIP 116454b’s average density suggests that it is either a watery world (three-fourths water and one-fourth rock) or a planet with a gaseous atmosphere, like a mini-Neptune.
“The Kepler mission showed us that planets larger in size than Earth and smaller than —> Read More Here