European Space Agency will launch telescope able to discover twin Earths


PLATO observes the dimming of a star's light when a planet passes in front of it.

Following a meeting of the European Space Agency's committee in Madrid, the mission has now received the official green light, meaning it will now move from the blueprint phase into proper construction.

These 10 new planets are all in the so-called "Goldilocks" zone of their stars.

Plato's launch is planned for 2026 following the launches of other satellites Solar Orbiter in late 2018 and Euclid in 2020. Just yesterday, NASA announced the Kepler space telescope discovered 219 more planet candidates. We need theories to explain the different planet types identified within the catalogue. Past year the agency announced future missions to the moon. Since 2014 the Kepler telescope has been taking data on its extended second mission, observing fields on the plane of the ecliptic of our galaxy (right).

The candidate exoplanets appear in the eighth and newest catalog from the agency's exoplanet-hunting Kepler space telescope and the final catalog from Kepler's observations of the Cygnus constellation.

"With this concept and the high precision of the instrument, we will find rocky planets orbiting Sun-like stars and will be able to characterize them properly", explained mission principal investigator Heike Rauer of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin.

And the main ingredient which is key to the existence of life and without which the life can not exist is water and this liquid is seen on these "rocky" Earth-like planets.

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"However, there's a lot we don't know about this planet, and as a result, it's hard to say whether it's really an Earth twin", Thompson said Monday. Using a 37-inch (95-centimetre) telescope and a unique wide-angle 95-megapixel camera, Kepler looked for subtle dips in the brightness of stars in a predetermined patch of sky beginning soon after its 2009 launch on a Delta 2 rocket.

The search for a planet capable of hosting life remains a distant pursuit - there is no solar system close enough for mankind to ever reach it, unless we develop time travel.

PLATO, the largest European exoplanet research mission, is aiming to discover more potential exoplanet candidates that orbit around their host stars' habitable zone and have Earth-like atmosphere.

Astronomers turned to the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to measure the sizes of approximately 1,300 stars known to have planets.

At the media briefing, NASA revealed that the Kepler Mission catalogue had produced a clue. The star's position will shift slightly due to the tug of a nearby exoplanet companion, and the movement shifts the wavelengths of the light seen through a spectroscope.

The Kepler Mission catalogue told us where to look, now we can begin to uncover what alien worlds are truly like.

Professor Laurent Gizon, director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, added: 'Plato will for the first time fully characterise these stars and their planets with regard to mass, radius, and age.