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Kepler-138 b Facts: Mars-Size Exoplanet Smaller Than Earth (Infographic)

Facts about planet Kepler-138b
By studying data from the Kepler probe, scientists have found a planet about the size of Mars, about 200 light-years away from Earth. (Image credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist)

Although most of the planet candidates cataloged by NASA's Kepler space telescope have diameters in the range of 2 to 4 times that of the Earth, little Kepler-138 b is only about the size and mass of Mars.

Full Story: Alien Planet Is Smaller Than Earth and Surprisingly Light

Kepler-138 b is one of three planets orbiting the red dwarf star Kepler-138, which is located 200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. The gravity of Kepler-138's three planets pulls them into slightly different positions than they would occupy otherwise. This enables scientists to calculate the mass of the planets.

The innermost planet is Kepler-138 b, which has a density about the same as the rocky planet Mars. The middle planet, Kepler-138 c, has a density about the same as Earth, and the outermost planet (Kepler-138 d) is less than half as dense, indicating a large proportion of light materials such as water and hydrogen. [The Smallest Known Alien Planets in Pictures]

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Karl Tate
Karl's association with SPACE.com goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. Starting in 2010, Karl has been TechMediaNetwork's infographics specialist across all editorial properties.  Before joining SPACE.com, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating  news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Karl on Google+.

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