Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We May Have Found Another Planet to Ruin

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 5:00 PM

We don't know if there's anything for us to stand on yet, but the temperature appears to be a delightful 72 degrees, there's light similar to that of our sun, and the year is a little longer than ours. Pack your bags for Kepler-22b, I think we've nearly milked this planet for all it's worth:

At 2.4 times wider than Earth, the composition of Kepler-22b is a puzzle. It could be rocky, a “super-Earth” much like our planet but bigger. It might also be a water world covered with deep oceans, said Dimitar Sasselov, a Kepler scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Or it could be gaseous like Neptune or Uranus.

Determining the planet’s composition rests in part on measuring its mass — how heavy it is. The Kepler telescope is unable to make this measurement, but ground-based telescopes can by watching the planet tugging on its star. Telescopes in Hawaii and elsewhere will attempt these measurements when the star comes into view next summer, Borucki said.

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