NASA has found a new planet outside Earth's solar system that is eerily similar to Earth in important aspects.
Scientists say the temperature on the surface of the planet is about a comfy 72 degrees (22 Celsius). Its star could almost be a twin of Earth's sun. It probably has water and land.
It was found in the middle of the habitable zone, making it the best potential target for life.
The discovery announced Monday was made by NASA's Kepler planet-hunting telescope. This is the first time Kepler confirmed a planet outside Earth's solar system in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold habitable zone. This is the region around a star where liquid water, a requirement for life on Earth, could persist. The planet is estimated to be 2.4 times the size of Earth, which would make it the smallest found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star like our sun.
Twice before astronomers have announced planets found in that zone, but neither was as promising. One was disputed; the other is on the hot edge of the zone.
I'm sure if we behave ourselves, the GOP may let NASA exist long enough so that we can build a really big slingshot to lob a rock with a digital camera strapped to it at Kepler-22b. Unfortunately, we're going to have to end Social Security and breathing in order to do it...unless we can convince the job creators that the planet's rich in Unobtanium.
The six-legged tigers and giant blue cat people may object, however. Or the legion of dormant, life-hating robots. Or the weeping angel statues everywhere. Or the deadly plants. Or the viruses. Or...well, there's got to be a catch, dammit.