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NASA reports discovery of 5 exoplanets

RIA Novosti


WASHINGTON, January 6 (RIA Novosti) - NASA's Kepler space telescope, designed to find Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars, has discovered its first five new planets beyond the solar system, NASA has reported.

The discoveries were announced on January 4 by the members of the Kepler science team during a news briefing at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington.

The new exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system, range in size from similar to Neptune to larger than Jupiter and their estimated temperatures are hotter than molten lava and much too hot for life as we know it, NASA said.

Launched on March 6, 2009, the Kepler mission simultaneously observes more than 150,000 stars.

According to NASA, the new discoveries are based on approximately six weeks' worth of data collected since science operations began on May 12, 2009.

NASA said the Kepler space telescope will continue science operations until at least November 2012.

"It will search for planets as small as Earth, including those that orbit stars in a warm habitable zone where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet," the U.S. space agency said.

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