While Venus and Mars both are similar to the Earth in size, Mars is the planet most like Earth. Days on Mars are just over 24 hours, and Mars also has ice sheets as large as Greenland at its poles, leading some to believe that it may have held life.
With the Kepler Mission’s first round of data released, it might be interesting to discuss some of the newly discovered planets. In February of 2011, NASA released information on five Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of their stars (the habitable zone refers to the region in a planetary system in which liquid water can exist on a planet, the presence of which we believe to be a prerequisite for life). This was very exciting because although Kepler has to date found 1,235 planets orbiting distant stars, only 68 have been close to the Earth in size (most are much larger, closer to Neptune).While these planets are considered only candidates until further information can be gathered, we may soon find that there are many planets like Earth in our galaxy.
The NASA press conference announcing Kepler’s findings.
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