Astrophysicist and Planetary Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT planetary scientist and astrophysicist Sara Seager is on a quest. She wants to find a warm, wet exoplanet with signs of life. It could be Earth 2.0. Emily Lakdawalla says Europe’s Venus Express probe is probably out of fuel. Bill Nye celebrates one piece of the controversial “Cromnibus” funding bill passed by Congress. The holiday skies are full of planets, according to Bruce Betts in this week’s What’s Up.
NASA / Ames / JPL-Caltech
Kepler-22b: Closer to Finding an Earth
This artist's conception illustrates Kepler-22b, a planet known to comfortably circle in the habitable zone of a sun-like star. It is the first planet that NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed to orbit in a star's habitable zone - the region around a star where liquid water, a requirement for life on Earth, could persist. The planet is 2.4 times the size of Earth, making it the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star like our sun. Scientists do not yet know if the planet has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition. It's possible that the world would have clouds in its atmosphere, as depicted here in the artist's interpretation. Read more about the discovery here.