by Christopher Freeburn | February 27, 2014 12:04 pm
Astronomers sifting through data sent back to Earth by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope have identified a massive number of planets orbiting distant stars.715 new worlds were discovered using a new analysis of data obtained during the first two years of the Kepler Mission. Among the new planets found in data from the Kepler Mission are four worlds that appear to orbit their suns within the so-called “habitable zone,” the distance from their star at which water can exist in liquid form on the planet’s surfaces, the Los Angeles Times notes.
The new planets were found around 305 stars previously looked at by the Kepler Mission. That means that the new worlds exist in multi-planet solar systems.
The Kepler Mission has given scientists an unprecedented opportunity to detect the existence of planets outside the solar system by detecting the shadows on extra-solar worlds as they pass in front of their own suns.
Prior to the new data only 246 new planets had previously been confirmed from Kepler Mission data. Almost all of the worlds found so far are much larger than Earth — larger planets being easier to detect a great distance.
The Kepler Mission suffered a grave setback last year when the satellite experienced a major systems failure. NASA is working on a plan to try to overcome the problem.
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