NASA Opens the Exoplanet Floodgate

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Transcript by Newsy**** BY STEVEN SPARKMAN You're watching multisource science news analysis from News...
Transcript by Newsy**** BY STEVEN SPARKMAN You're watching multisource science news analysis from Newsy NASA has announced several discoveries in the search for planets outside our solar system, to the delight of astronomers worldwide. The findings all center around the Kepler telescope, which finds planets by watching them pass in front of their home stars. The New York Times reports the search has been fruitful. (Video: NASA) “In a long-awaited announcement, scientists operating NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting satellite reported Wednesday that they had identified 1,202 possible planets orbiting other stars, potentially tripling the number of known planets in the universe.” The researchers discovered that small planets like Earth are more common than large planets like Jupiter. They identified more than 50 such small planets that could have liquid water, many of them in multi-planet systems. Stars with multiple planets are especially sought after, since watching how the planets interact tells us more about them. The data uncovered 200 such systems. A blogger for Discover Magazine directs us to one unusual system, called Kepler-11. (Video: NASA) “...astronomers have found a complete solar system of six planets orbiting a sun-like star… and it’s really weird: five of the six planets huddle closer to their star than Mercury does to the Sun!” Earlier this year the Kepler team discovered the first planet ever confirmed to be made of rock instead of gas. With discovery after discovery piling up, an exoplanet researcher tells Wired it’s enough to get astronomers a little choked up. “Kepler is making people’s dreams come true. It sounds kind of corny, but it’s really true... It’s changing exoplanet science as we know it.” At a press conference, NASA scientists pointed out it took 15 years for astronomers to find just 500 planets. Kepler collected its data in just four months, from an area 1/400th of the sky. Think they’ll be finding another Earth anytime soon? Share your thoughts in our comments section. Get more multisource video news analysis from Newsy