NASA Announces Discovery of Earth-Like Exoplanet


“Super Earth” Kepler-452b Lies in Habitable Zone of Distant Star


This artist’s concept depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of star that is similar to our sun.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

The search for life on other worlds has taken multiple bold steps this week. Earlier, famed physicist Stephen Hawking helped announce a new $100 million search for intelligent life. Now, NASA has announced the discovery of the first near-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star.

In an announcement released today, the American space agency revealed that its Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the so-called “Goldilocks Zone” of the Kepler-452 system. According to NASA, the discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark “another milestone in the journey to finding another Earth.”

The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.

NASA Discovers Exoplanet in Habitable Zone

This size and scale of the Kepler-452 system compared alongside the Kepler-186 system and the solar system. Kepler-186 is a miniature solar system that would fit entirely inside the orbit of Mercury.
Credits: NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt

Dubbed Kepler-452b, the planet is the smallest to date discovered orbiting in the area of a star where liquid-water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery is even more significant because the star in question is a G2-type star, like Earth’s own sun.

While small compared to other discovered exoplanets, Kepler-452b is still 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth. Thus, it is considered to be a “super-Earth-size” planet. NASA has not reached a conclusion as to its mass or composition, but previous research indicates planets of the super-Earth-size variety have a good chance of being rocky.


NASA Selects Astronauts for First U.S. Commercial Space Flights


Space Agency Names Four “Pioneers” to Train on new Spacecraft

NASA Selects Four astronauts to fly on commercial crew vehicle

Image: NASA

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden today announced the names of four astronauts who will fly on the first Commercial Crew Vehicles. The move was described by Bolden as part of NASA’s ambitious plans to return space launches to U.S. soil.

The four veteran astronauts chosen to fly are:

  • Robert Behnken
  • Sunita Williams
  • Eric Boe
  • Douglas Hurley

The Commercial Crew Program (CCP) aims to develop American commercial crew space transportation capability. Its ultimate goal is to achieve safe, reliable, and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station (ISS) and low-Earth orbit. Above all, the program is intended to eliminate, or at least reduce, America’s current reliance on Russian spacecraft.

Fiscally, NASA hopes the return of crew launches to U.S. soil will save a considerable amount of money per launch. According to Bolden, it currently costs $76 million per astronaut to fly on a Russian spacecraft. The goal of CCP is to reduce that figure to $58 million on American-owned spacecraft.


MUFON Releases Monthly Sightings Report for June 2015


Each month, MUFON releases a statistical break-down of UFO reports by country and state. These numbers are gathered from MUFON’s case management system (CMS).

In June, the United States saw 1402 reports filed through CMS. Out of the American states, California and Florida saw the most reports with 181 and 91, respectively.

See the full statistical report, including the state-by-state breakdown and international numbers, below the fold.