Another Earth?

  • Released Thursday, May 29th, 2014
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:50PM

Since NASA’s Kepler space telescope launched in 2009, it has found hundreds of new worlds within the Milky Way. Now it has spotted the first planet outside our solar system that could support life. The planet, called Kepler-186f, is located about 500 light-years from Earth and orbits a star similar to our sun. Its orbit is within the star’s habitable zone, the region where temperatures should be neither too hot nor too cold, but just right for liquid water to exist—a precursor for life as we know it. Scientists are unsure if the planet is habitable or what it’s made of, but this discovery proves there are worlds like our own that reside in life’s celestial sweet spot. Watch the video for a tour of Kepler-186f.

Kepler-186f is about 10 percent larger than Earth. At this size, the planet is big enough to have an atmosphere, but not be made primarily of gas.

Kepler-186f is about 10 percent larger than Earth. At this size, the planet is big enough to have an atmosphere, but not be made primarily of gas.

The orbits of Kepler 186-f (green) and its neighboring planets (yellow) are shown here in relation to the star's habitable zone (dark green).

The orbits of Kepler 186-f (green) and its neighboring planets (yellow) are shown here in relation to the star's habitable zone (dark green).

To date, the Kepler space telescope has discovered nearly 1,000 new planets.

To date, the Kepler space telescope has discovered nearly 1,000 new planets.


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Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Video and images courtesy of NASA/Ames Research Center