Give Now  »

Noon Edition

New Earth‑like Planets

kepler telescope on the horizon


NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has confirmed two more Earth-like planets orbiting red dwarf stars. These stars are smaller and cooler than our Sun. The planets are located in the Goldilocks Zone, which means they are not too hot or too cold to support life.

The telescope was designed to survey a nearby portion of our Milky Way galaxy. It locates planets by watching them transit, or cross in front of, their stars. Transits by planets reduce the light reaching the telescope by very, very small amounts. The change in brightness lasts several hours. It is also periodic, occurring repeatedly as the planet's orbit passes between the sun and the telescope.

The planet named Kepler‑438b is a little larger than Earth. It's located very close to its sun, taking only 35 days to orbit its host star. Despite that, it only receives about 40 percent more light than Earth.


Kepler‑442b is one and a half times the size of Earth. It is farther from its sun, completing an orbit in 112 days. It would be a darker world, receiving about two‑thirds as much light as Earth.

The bad news is, no one will be visiting either planet any time soon. The closest one is over 400 light years away, which means without a futuristic space ship, it would take many generations to get there.

The good news is, Kepler has already confirmed over a thousand planets, and has about a thousand more waiting to be confirmed. And this is just the beginning of our hunt for other worlds.

Read More:

"Kepler and K2" (NASA


Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science