NASA’s Kepler space telescope has been floating in space since early 2009, and it’s already outlived its planned mission window by a handful of years, but that’s not stopping it from continuing to find some seriously awesome objects outside of our Solar System. The team that runs the powerful stargazer just released a new rundown of over 200 brand new planets that the telescope has managed to detect, and ten of them are very, very exciting for anyone hoping to one day hear about the discovery of life outside of Earth.
The new documentation reveals an impressive 219 new planets, though the vast majority of those aren’t thought to present the kind of climate or conditions favorable to life. However, the ten that are the most promising exist within the so-called “Goldilocks zone” which would allow liquid water to exist on their surfaces, and since water is often considered to be the most important ingredient to life, it makes those planets extremely interesting.
As promising as the discoveries are, there’s still an incredible amount of uncertainty with regard to even the most attractive exoplanets. Kepler detects the presence and estimated orbits of new worlds by spotting the tiny differences in light emitted by the stars they orbit whenever a planetary body passes in front of them. We still don’t have any idea what the planets look like, or if water in any form actually exists on them. Still, filtering out the most likely life-supporting planets is a huge step towards potentially confirming extraterrestrial life one day, and that’s still pretty exciting.