NASA has discovered more than 5,000 planets outside of our Solar system. Earth is the only one that appears to have the right conditions for human life.The planetary odometer turned on March 21, with the latest batch of 65 exoplanets outside our immediate Solar family. The archive records exoplanet discoveries that appear in peer-reviewed scientific papers and that have been confirmed using multiple detection methods or analytical techniques.
The 5,000-plus planets found include small, rocky worlds like Earth, gas giants many times larger than Jupiter, and “hot Jupiters” in scorchingly close orbits around their stars. There are “super-Earths,” which are possible rocky worlds bigger than our own, and “mini-Neptunes,” more miniature versions of our system’s Neptune.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched in 2018, continues to make new exoplanet discoveries.Soon powerful next-generation telescopes and their susceptible instruments, starting with the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope, will capture light from the atmospheres of exoplanets, reading which gases are present to identify tell-tale signs of habitable conditions potentially.
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