This artist’s illustration represents the variety of planets being detected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. Scientists now say that one in six stars hosts an Earth-size planet. CREDIT: C. Pulliam & D. Aguilar (CfA)

Finding Another Earth: How Will Scientists Confirm It Exists?

by Miriam Kramer, SPACE Staff Writer
Date: 10 January 2013 Time: 01:46 AM ET

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The announcement this week that astronomers have found a potential alien world that could be the most Earth-like exoplanet yet is raising a big question: How will scientists confirm the existence of a true alien Earth.

While NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, which discovered the newfound Earth-like planet candidate KOI 172.2, is great for finding large exoplanets beyond the reaches of our sun, it is not our best bet for recognizing an Earth-twin circling a distant star.

In order to understand what an Earth-twin candidate really looks like, it takes a more refined approach than what Kepler can provide, at the moment.

“It’s a statistical mission,” astronomer Natalie Batalha said of Kepler at the 221st meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Tuesday (Jan. 8).

Read more: Finding Another Earth: How Will Scientists Confirm It Exists? | Space.

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