NASA have just made a huge announcement about a discovery made in their Alien Hunting Project – a solar system exactly like our own, which is the first of its kind.
Two new planets found around the Kepler-90 star, which resembles our own sun, means the distant solar system has just as many planets as our own and could hold life.
The space agency held a widely-anticipated press conference today at 6pm GMT to reveal the new discovery.
It was made by the Kepler telescope and people have been getting excited after NASA announced they were holding a press conference because they had some news – but giving scarce details.
The announcement of the press conference on the NASA website read:
NASA hosts a media teleconference to announce the latest discovery made by its planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.
The discovery was made by researchers using machine learning from Google.
Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence, and demonstrates new ways of analysing Kepler data.
NASA’s Kepler space telescope was built to discover other planets similar to Earth which could potentially sustain life and now, it’s made a discovery so significant it looks like they’ve got something exciting to share.
The Kepler telescope – named after astronomer Johannes Kepler – was launched on March 7, 2009 – at the time scientists were unsure how many exoplanets existed.
Since becoming an integral part of the process of discovering other planets similar to Earth, it’s shown they share many things in common ‘indicating that each star might have its own planet’.
It completed its main mission back in 2012, however the Kepler telescope is still collecting data – in 2014 it began a new mission, dubbed ‘K2’, to search for more exoplanets and analyse other cosmic mysteries.
Due to the sheer amount of data being transmitted through the telescope scientists on the ground are having trouble keeping up, which is why they’ve introduced Google’s AI program to help with the task at hand.
Kepler’s mission has already led to several major discoveries, like finding other planets in the universe which could support human life, which is what’s expected to be announced later.
In February NASA held a major press conference where they claimed to have discovered the ‘holy grail’ of all solar systems – they believed they discovered a solar system filled with planets similar to our own.
Additionally, they said three of the seven planets were the ‘holy grail for planet-hunting astronomers’ as they sit within a climate which could, theoretically, allow for alien life to grow.
Speaking to The Independent at the time of the discovery, Astronomer Dr Chris Copperwheat, from Liverpool’s John Moores University, who was part of the international team, claimed:
The discovery of multiple rocky planets with surface temperatures which allow for liquid water make this amazing system an exciting future target in the search for life.