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Science News: 100 New Alien Planets Discovered by NASA Kepler Mission

Planets
(Photo : Wikipedia / Lucianomendez / CC)

The revived Kepler space mission has helped NASA identify 100 new alien planets.

Aside from these, the spacecraft was also able to monitor over 200 more that are currently awaiting confirmation.

According to National Geographic, the first Kepler mission was launched in 2009 with the primary objective to monitor space for signs of new stars and planets. The goal of the mission is to find alien worlds that have almost the same characteristics as Earth.

However, in 2013, the mission was temporarily shut down due to a technical malfunction that prevented the spacecraft from monitoring other planets.

But, in May of 2014, after several adjustments and improvements, NASA launched the second version of Kepler dubbed as K2, Space.com reported. Since then, the K2 has been spending its days peering into space and has already gathered information on over 300 alien planets.

One hundred of these have already been identified by NASA's scientist. These include the three planets that are in the Hyades star cluster, which is the nearest cosmic cluster to Earth. Based on their observations, these three planets are bigger than our world.

According to NASA, like in the previous mission, the objective of K2 is to locate stars, planets and other cosmic bodies near Earth. Using the data collected by K2, scientists will then try to identify the most interesting and observable systems in space.

As for the other planets, scientists explained these are located in various systems and some of them orbit stars that are hotter than those in the region that the first Kepler mission studied.

But aside from looking at neighboring solar systems, the scientists noted that the K2 can also be used to carry out more detailed studies on planets near Earth. Following its re-launch in 2014, the spacecraft spent more than two months just observing Neptune.

"This is the best view, the longest view of Neptune's we've ever had - this think we've known about for hundreds of years," Tom Barclay from NASA's Ames Research Center said in a statement. "Now Kepler is staring at Uranus, a world that is much more placid than its blue wind-whipped sibling Neptune, and will target a population of asteroids that share orbit with Jupiter."

"The area I get most excited about is the study of bodies in our own solar system," he added. "It's just so new for us, it's something we've never done before with the spacecraft."

The findings of NASA were presented during last week's American Astronomical Society conference.

Tags Kepler, NASA, Space, Planet, Earth, Study, Science, K2

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