Last Thursday (April 18), Kepler mission scientists announced the discovery of a tantalizing star system named Kepler-62, found with the help of NASA’s exoplanet hunter Kepler. This discovery has prompted a teaming up of Kepler and SETI in the hunt for transmitting extraterrestrials.
At least five worlds are known to be orbiting Kepler-62. Two of the exoplanets, dubbed Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f, are located within the star’s habitable zone with orbital periods of 122 and 267 days, respectively. And it gets even better.
Both planets are very small and may possess rocky surfaces. “e” is 1.6 times the size of Earth and “f” is 1.4 times the size of Earth.
While the 1,200 light-year distance puts a damper on further observations right now, Kepler-62e and f are the smallest worlds detected by Kepler to date that orbit within the habitable zone of their star, allowing liquid water to exist (if it is indeed present), thereby potentially supporting the evolution of life as we know it on their hypothetical rocky surfaces.
That might be all we get to know for now, but Kepler is continuously reducing the uncertainty of hunting for ETIs. As Kepler-62 demonstrates, there are a lot more promising worlds out there to study.
With a Penny4NASA, there’s a chance we can expedite these kinds of discoveries, creating technology to advance the capabilities of Kepler and SETI and learning more than we ever have before.