NASA’s Kepler spacecraft launched in March 2009 with the mission of discovering potentially life-supporting planets. To date, Kepler has discovered more than 2,000 planet candidates and 61 confirmed planets. According to scientists, one of these recently confirmed planets is the best candidate for a planet capable of supporting life.
This giant planet, called GJ 667Cc, is at least 4.5 times as massive as Earth. According to Space.com, a team of scientists, which included Guillem Anglada-Escudé of the Carnegie Institution for Science, determined this planet’s location to be within the habitable zone of its host star — “a narrow circumstellar region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface.” Anglada-Escudé stated, “This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it.”
Space.com explains that the researchers suspect “potentially habitable alien worlds could exist in a greater variety of environments than was previously thought possible,” based on the new findings.
The team’s research will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.