Is there alien life on Kepler’s planets? NASA reveal new discovery | Science | News

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The latest discovery in ’s Kepler Space Telescope mission shed light onto alien planets in the deepest, darkest corners of space.

The Kepler-90 announcement on Thursday was hailed an exciting development in analysing a treasure trove of data collected by the telescope.

One planet in particular, Kepler-90i, has attracted the attention of astronomy boffins for bringing the total Kepler planet count to eight – just like our solar system.

But NASA’s leading scientists unfortunately dashed all hopes of finding life in the Kepler system, underlining it is simply too hostile.

Paul Hertz, Director of the Astrophysics Division, said: “The planet Kepler-90i is not likely to have life since it is so close to the star Kepler-90 that the surface temperature is 800 Fahrenheit. 

“And we don’t have any way of discovering life on Kepler-90i since it is so far away and so close to its star. 

“But if we did discover life, we would announce it to the world.”

Kepler-90 is a large, hot star located in the Draco constellation about 2,500 light years from Earth.

The Kepler system is an almost picture-perfect image of our own with inner rocky planets and outer gaseous giants, NASA have said, but its capacity for life is not as high.

Andrew Vanderburg, a NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow, said: “The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system. 

“You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer.”

Kepler-90i itself is a sizzling hot, rocky wasteland barrelling around the Sun every 14.4 days. It is so close to Kepler that its scorched surfaces boil away at over 800 degrees Fahrenheit – conditions similar to Mercury.

Mr Hertz added current technological limitations are also keeping NASA back from truly finding life in outer .

He said: “Today’s telescopes are good at finding planets but not at finding signs of habitability. 

“We are working on the technology needed for future telescopes that can detect signs if habitability. 

“The James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2019, will be the first step toward that goal.”

The Kepler telescope hunts for signs of planets by recording shadows moving across stars. The collected data is then analysed by Google’s machine learning AI, which is how the new discovery was made.

During its first space mission which launched in 2009, Kepler observed over 150,000 stars. On its second run, the K2 mission, Kepler observed an additional 200,000 stars.

NASA have admitted many of these stars contain habitable planets – planets where the conditions are right for water to exist – but the agency does not know yet which of these could sustain life.

Kartik Sheth, form NASA HQ, added: “For example, in our Solar System, Mars, Earth and Venus all are in the ‘habitable zone’ and yet life only exists on Earth.”

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