The Kepler Space Telescope has uncovered thousands of possible exoplanets during its years of work for NASA, and each one brings us one step closer to finding another world in our universe that harbors alien life.
If we wait for our best chance of reunion the aliens are found on planets that look as much as Earth, maybe we can find hope in the fact that a few dozen Kepler planets are about the size of our world and orbit at a similar distance from their stars. These are some of the most promising and interesting candidates.
The concept of an artist shows Kepler-452b, an exoplanet that looks a lot like Earth. Photo: NASA
It was exciting when this planet was discovered a couple of years ago, because Kepler-452b is close to the size of Earth and lives in the area habitable of a star that is similar to our own sun. Scientists have estimated that it is only 60 percent larger than Earth, can have a rocky composition and has a year that lasts 385 days. Kepler-452b resides in the constellation of Cygnus, about 1,400 light years from our solar system. The research suggests that it is around 6 billion years old.
Kepler-22b was the first exoplanet to discover NASA's Kepler mission in the habitable zone of a star, opening a new world for us in outer space. Photo: NASA / JPL
He never forgets his first, so Kepler-22b had to be on this list. It was the first planet that the Kepler space telescope found for NASA and that seems to be in the habitable zone of its star, that magical distance from the star where there is the right amount of heat to support the liquid water. In addition to being temperate, the exoplanet has an orbital period similar to that of Earth. The cons? Well, it's 600 light years away, out of our reach.
Kepler-186f is the first exoplanet discovered by scientists in the habitable zone of a star that is comparable to the size of Earth. Photo: NASA / JPL
Another first for the exoplanet hunter was the rocky planet Kepler-186f, which is also found in the habitable zone of its star and It has a size comparable to that of Earth. Other potentially habitable planets before were much larger. This exoplanet orbits a red dwarf star about 500 light-years away, completing one revolution every 130 days.
Kepler-16b is known as the planet Tatooine. Photo: NASA