Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

NASA May Be About To Reveal The Discovery Of A New 'Earth'

kepler2.png


Yes, we know it sounds like a lavish PR stunt for the next major Hollywood sci-fi epic, but we've checked the speaker list and Tom Cruise isn't appearing.

At 17:00 GMT on 23 July, NASA will hold a press conference to announce the latest findings of its planet-hunting Kepler mission. There's a change they could make an announcement that could chance the course of... well, everything human kind is doing with space. Here's why.



Kepler

Launched in March 2009, NASA's Kepler spacecraft has been using one of the world's most powerful photometers (basically a telescope that looks for light) to probe the deepest, darkest corners of space. It's mission? To look for far off planets (or exoplanets, to be exact) - particularly those that hold the potential for the formation of liquid water and sit within a "habitable zone" of the star it orbits. They're looking for another Earth.

The "habitable zone" is hugely important for finding an Earth-like planet: too close to a star, and the surface will likely be a molten vat of horribleness, too far and it could be a frozen desert. 

The Kepler spots these planetary bodies by looking for a "transit event", which has nothing to do with white vans, but rather a tiny dip in the light levels given off by a distant star.

This indicates that something has passed in front of the star in its orbit, allowing NASA to determine a bunch of properties, from its size to whether it sits in a habitable zone.

So far, the Kepler mission has spotted 1,000 planets, and a further 3,000 possible planets. At their press briefing today, NASA will announce the Kepler's latest findings - which could well include an Earth-sized planet, sitting in a habitable zone.

Kepler

Should that be the case, NASA could point a whole heap of equipment, researchers and tech, at the spot of sky that this Earth candidate sits in, allowing us to find out (or have a good guess) if it really could be awash with oceans, mountains and - just possibly - life.

It could be the first of many, or just a one-off - but it's the sort of discovery that means future trips into the big black could be pointed at this discovery. Sure, we won't visit it for a very, very long time, but it's something to aim at, right?

We'll find out for sure when NASA reveals all at 17:00. You'll be able to watch the press conference stream right here.

If you need us, we'll be watching Star Trek episodes on repeat until then.

(Images: NASA)

Related

whatsapp1.jpg

Could you survive without Whatsapp?

space.PNG

This Is What Nixon Would Have Said If The Moon Landing Had Gone Wrong

pluto.jpg

Everything you need to know about New Horizon's Pluto trip

sony1.jpg

The Nintendo PlayStation console that never was

halo.PNG

Scientific Proof That Men Who Troll Are Losers

jeep.jpg

Could 'Car Hacking' Be The Next Cyber Crime Craze?

Comments

More

Man runs Football Manager for 1000 years and insane things happened

The future of football is a weird, wonderful place

by Dave Fawbert
18 Jul 2017

Robot is gifted with intelligence, immediately commits suicide

I NEVER ASKED FOR THIS [END TRANSMISSION]

by Gary Ogden
18 Jul 2017

Mario Kart VR is a real thing and it looks ridiculously fun

Imagine Rainbow Road

by Matt Tate
14 Jul 2017

People are freaking out over this totally stupid Super Mario puzzle

Who invented this?!

by Alex Finnis
14 Jul 2017

I went in search of the last trainers still hooked on Pokémon Go

Can the app still draw mass crowds one year on, or is it all just Pokemon G(h)o-st towns now?

by Hussein Kesvani
06 Jul 2017

You've been charging your phone completely wrong - here's how to do it

A phone battery is for life, not just for Christmas

by Gary Ogden
06 Jul 2017

The Crash Bandicoot remaster is a time machine to your childhood

Was it always this hard?!

by Matt Tate
05 Jul 2017

This 12-year-old CEO is here to show you how little you've achieved

He's also an actor and musician, and you probably hate him already

by Dave Fawbert
05 Jul 2017

Facebook are making it easier for you to find Wi-Fi

Here's how to use it

by Matt Tate
04 Jul 2017

People can't stop laughing at this poor man and his Snapchat map

Oh mate...

by Alex Finnis
30 Jun 2017