William Borucki, head of NASA's Kepler project, rounded up his team yesterday and treated them to pizza and beer. The special occasion? The planet-finding spacecraft craft that Borucki and his crew look over found two planets that are the most Earth-like ever discovered.
"It's a big deal," said Borucki.
The two new planets, named Kepler 62e and 62f, are considered to be "Goldilock" planets because they are situated in the "just right" distance from their star that allows them to have conditions favorable to water and life. The two planets are 37 million and 65 million miles from their star, respectively. "About as far apart as Mercury and Venus in our own solar system," says the New York Times.
Both planets are larger than Earth, but Kepler 62f is the one everyone's excited about. Mr. Boruki said it's "the best planet Kepler has found." 62f is 40 percent larger than Earth and sits comfortably in the Goldilock zone. “It’s the right size and the right temperature," says David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The Kepler spacecraft, which was launched in March of 2009, has found 115 new planets in the Milky Way by studying patches of stars and waiting for planet to pass in front of its star, causing a blip in light. So far, the Kepler 62 system is most similar to our solar system. Unfortunately, it's 1,200 light years away so we won't be able to visit any time soon.