Washington: NASA’s ambitious Kepler Mission has been discovered 1,284 new planets. This is by far the largest discovery of the planets. America’s Princeton University and NASA scientists have confirmed that 1,284 objects observed outside Earth’s solar system are indeed planets.
"This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler so far to more than 2,300," said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at the NASA headquarters in Washington. This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth, he added.
Of the new planets, nearly 550 could be rocky like Earth, NASA said. Nine planets are the right distance from a star to support temperatures at which water could pool. The discovery brings to 21 the total number of known planets with such conditions, which could permit life.
Kepler looked for slight changes in the amount of light coming from about 150,000 target stars. Some of the changes were caused by orbiting planets passing across, or transiting, the face of their host stars, relative to Kepler's line of sight.
“Before the Kepler telescope was launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy,” said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA. “Thanks to Kepler, we now know there could be more planets than stars,” said Hertz.