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5 Earth-sized planets spied in ‘habitable zone’

February 03, 2011
“If we find that Earth-sized planets are common in habitable zones of stars, it’s very likely that life is common around these stars,”
- Kepler scientist William Borucki

At least five Earth-sized planets appear to be orbiting their stars at just the right distance to host liquid water, NASA said Wednesday, announcing a significant step in the agency’s search for extraterrestrial life.

The Kepler telescope gleaned an extraordinary amount of new information in less than two years of Earth orbit, observing a small slice of the Milky Way galaxy.

The discoveries include whole solar systems and planets close enough to each other to give scientists clues about what they are made of — thus how hospitable to life they may be.

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