Today NASA announced that its space telescope Kepler has discovered the first habitable planet outside of Earth.
Kepler was launched into space on March 7, 2009, for the purpose of finding planets and it was as soon as September 17, 2009, that the telescope discovered more than 156,000 stars of interest that the habitable discovery is based off of, according to NASA.
NASA describes that the telescope observes a large area of the sky where it simultaneously measures the variations and brightness of more than 100,000 stars every 30 minutes.
Stars that are determined to be of interest are those that are seen to have subtle blips of light that occur when a revolving planet passes in front of it, according to NASA.
NASA calls this the “transit method” of finding planets. The discovery of a planet isn’t sure until several of such transits have been confirmed.
Kepler observed a total of 2,326 potential planets in the first 16 months of the mission, according to Space.com.
NASA says that scientists can determine whether or not a planet contains a habitable environment by measuring how near or how far the distance is from the star it revolves around.
“Kepler-22b's radius is 2.4 times that of Earth, and the two planets have roughly similar temperatures,” reports Space.com. “If the greenhouse effect operates there similarly to how it does on Earth, the average surface temperature on Kepler-22b would be 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius).”
Part of what makes the study so exciting is how much infinite research can potentially come of it.
William Borucki, the science principal investigator of the NASA mission has said, "the fact that we've found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting sun-like stars in our galaxy."
It may eventually lead to answers about life on other planets.
A Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University conducted a poll of 1,003 adults that found that 56 percent say it’s either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that intelligent life exists on other planets.