Elisa V. Quintana of the SETI Institute and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., reported that Kepler 186f, a planet that's a tad bigger and a touch colder than our own home planet, was found in the habitable zone of another star, about 500 light-years away.
With its smaller size, Kepler 186f is more likely to have an Earth-like rocky surface, another step in astronomers’ quest for what might be called Earth 2.0.
“It’s a progression,” said another member of the discovery team, Thomas S. Barclay of the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute. “This planet really reminds us of Earth.”
The researchers speculate that it is made of the same stuff as Earth — iron, rock, ice, liquid water, although the relative amounts could be very different.
The gravity on Kepler 186f, too, is likely to be roughly the same as Earth’s. “You could far more easily imagine someone being able to go there and walk around on the surface,” Stephen Kane, an astronomer at San Francisco State University and another member of the research team, said in an interview.
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