NASA administrator Charles Bolden s counts himself among the people who “are probably convinced that it’s highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone.” According to Dave Gallagher, Director Astronomy & Physics at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” finding small planets, ones the size of Earth, is challenging, in part because they produce fainter signals.”
So, the good news is that a team of NASA astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the so-called “habitable zone” where water could exist. Thomas Barclay, a scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute says the planet can be thought of as an “Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth.” The planet was discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. It’s located about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.
The Kepler mission is dependent upon the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990. As Hubble orbits the Earth, it allows scientists to peer back in time, into distant galaxies, and yields stunning images of the stars and galaxies.