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)
NASA will unveil new discoveries made by its planet-hunting Kepler space telescope today (April 18).
Scientists will reveal the findings during a news conference at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) Thursday. The announcement will also be streamed live.
You can watch the announcement live on SPACE.com, courtesy of NASA TV.
"Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water," NASA officials said in a statement. "Launched in 2009, the Kepler space telescope is detecting planets and planet candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help us better understand our place in the galaxy."
According to NASA's announcement, Thursday's press briefing will include presentations from the following scientists:
- Paul Hertz, astrophysics director, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
- Roger Hunter, Kepler project manager, Ames Research Center
- William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator, Ames Research Center
- Thomas Barclay, Kepler scientist, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, Sonoma, Calif.
- Lisa Kaltenegger, research group leader, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany, and research associate, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.
Members of the public can ask questions using the Twitter hashtag, #AskNASA.
The $600 million Kepler spacecraft has flagged more than 2,700 potential planets since its launch. Just 115 or so have been confirmed to date by follow-up observations, but mission scientists estimate that more than 90 percent will turn out to be the real deal.