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SlashGear 101: What is NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope?

SlashGear 101: What is NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope?

NASA's big news today is the first ever sighting of an Earth-sized planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone", but it's not the first time the Kepler Space Telescope has caught sight of a potentially intriguing distant rock. The space observatory has already cataloged almost 1,000 exoplanets spread across 76 different stellar systems, though Kepler-186f has the unique privilege of being the first "Earth cousin" spotted.

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NASA Kepler mission discovers 715 new planets

NASA Kepler mission discovers 715 new planets

NASA's Kepler mission has made an exciting discovery and subsequent announcement: the discovery of 715 new planets orbiting 305 stars. Says the space agency, about 95-percent of the newly discovered planets are smaller than Neptune, making them more or less around the size of Earth, and makes for a "significant increase" in known small planets.

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NASA extends Kepler Earth-a-like search until 2016

NASA extends Kepler Earth-a-like search until 2016

NASA has extended its Kepler space observatory project, announcing that the orbiting telescope will continue its search for alien planets capable of sustaining life until the end of 2016. So far, Kepler has discovered 61 confirmed alien planets - defined as Earth-scale and orbiting stars at a point where liquid water and potentially life could be supported - and flagged up around 2,300 more that could also be contenders; in fact, the project has been described in a NASA review as "an outstanding success."

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Earth-like planet Kepler 22-b confirmed by NASA

Earth-like planet Kepler 22-b confirmed by NASA

This week astronomers have announced the existence of a planet discovered to be in human livable range of star not unlike our sun, with a size 2.4 times that of our Earth and a temperature of approximately 22 degrees celsius. This is the most recent in a line of possibilities for habitable planets in the realm of possibility as outlined by an international team of scientists in a paper by the name of "A Two-Tiered Approach to Assessing the Habitability of Exoplanets" as found at Mary Ann Libert Inc, publishing -- these scientists are not the same group that've discovered this newest planet, but they're sure to add the new finding to their list sooner than later. What we've got here is Kepler 22-b, a body that is what the Kepler space telescope team says is the closest we've ever gotten to discovering a planet that's like our own - an "Earth 2.0," if you will.

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NASA has found the first potentially habitable Earth-cousin

NASA has found the first potentially habitable Earth-cousin

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has made a planet-spotting breakthrough, catching sight of the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the so-called "habitable zone" where liquid water could be supported. Dubbed Kepler-186f, and around 500 light years away from our own Earth, the new planet is found in the constellation Cygnus; however, while it may be in the habitable zone in theory, it would be dimmer and probably cooler on the surface than Earth is.

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Kepler Space Telescope data suggests up to 40 billion Goldilocks planets

Kepler Space Telescope data suggests up to 40 billion Goldilocks planets

A new analysis of Kepler Space Telescope data by Berkeley astronomers suggests that as many as 40 billion planets with climates similar to Earth's may be calculated to exist in the Milky Way galaxy. Of those, 11 billion orbit stars similar to our sun. The rest of the hypothetical planets orbit red dwarf stars, which are the same size as our sun but cooler. New news nicely complements the more in-depth recent mineral analysis of the single planet Kepler Planet 78b.

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NASA ramps up search for habitable planets near Earth

NASA ramps up search for habitable planets near Earth

We've written several times about recent habitable planet findings, such as the discovery of three such planets on April 18 via the Kepler space telescope. Such planets exist within the habitable zone, but aren't necessarily capable of supporting life, and we won't know for sure without studying each one individually. The distance at which many of these exo-planets are located from our planet makes this a problem, with current technology being able to do little more than recognize their existence and potential habitability. That is where NASA's upcoming TESS telescope will come in.

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Google and NASA buy D-Wave quantum computer

Google and NASA buy D-Wave quantum computer

Google will co-invest in a quantum supercomputer lab near its Mountain View campus, exploring the potential for incredibly-fast processing tipped to run 11,000x faster at some tasks compared to a standard Intel chip. The computer itself will be manufactured by D-Wave and based at NASA's Ames Research Center, where the Universities Space Research Association nonprofit will be responsible for its operation; Google and other companies will share access to the "D-Wave Two" hardware, which is rumored to cost around $10m.

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