Has The Kepler Space Telescope Found Two Habitable Exoplanets?

Kepler Space TelescopeFor centuries (more like since the beginning of time), mankind has been fascinated with the Heavens. While we contemplated the source of the celestial bodies through the earliest of known history, and began mapping them as we explored the planet, our understanding of the stars, planets, and other types of matter in space has really only diverged in the past few hundred years. Thanks to incredible advancements in technology we are now able to explore further into space than we can currently dream of reaching in person.

And for nearly as long as Man has gazed at the sky, He has wondered at the possibility of life on other planets. The potential for alien life, of course, is both exciting and anxiety-inducing. After all, we know what humans are capable of and if another race of beings exist in the entire universe with our level of intelligence (or beyond) and also our capacity for violence (or worse), there could be a real threat.

Of course, at the same time it could be entirely possible that any alien race could be far more civilized and advanced than we are, particularly if they are able to travel to planets outside their solar system

But the other fascination we have with outer space—and the potential for alien life—is that we may one day want to explore the possibility of cultivating human life on another planet. Obviously, we have long known that it is not possible for humans to live on other planets without additional tools or systems.

Recently, though, NASA’s Kepler space telescope has located many exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) and two of the more recent discoveries have the potential, in fact, to harbor human life. There are currently four rocky planets orbiting a red dwarf star called K2-72, 181 light years away, within the Aquarius constellation. Two of these planets—currently known only as K2-72c and K2-72e—appear to be in the star’s “habitable zone.” This is the designation for a planet which could have liquid water.

Scientists say that these planets are closer to their respective star than our Mercury is to our sun. However, since the red dwarf is smaller and cooler than our yellow sun, this is not a problem. For example, the year (single orbit) of K2-72c is only about 15 Earth days but the planet is believed to be only about 10 percent warmer than Earth. K2-72e has an orbit of about 24 Earth days and might be as much as 6 percent cooler than Earth.

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