NASA announced Thursday that it has discovered a planet very similar to Earth inside the Milky Way galaxy. It's about 1,400 light years from Earth and orbits its star every 385 days, very similar to Earth's orbital length.
NASA described the planet, dubbed Kepler 452b, as an “Earth 2.0.” The planet is 60% larger than Earth and most likely has a solid, rocky surface, as opposed to a gaseous one. The planet and star it orbits are about 6 billion years old — 1.5 billion years older than our sun.
NASA said it does not know if there is life on Kepler 452b, but Jon Jenkins, the Kepler data analysis lead at NASA's Ames Research Center, said during the announcement: "It's simply awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star, which is longer than the age of the Earth. That's considerable time and opportunity for life to arise somewhere on the surface…should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life on this planet [exist]."
The planet is the most similar one to Earth found so far, said John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
In addition to Kepler 452b, the scientists announced 11 more newly-found Earth-sized planets. Kepler 452b is the only one orbiting a G star, which is the same type as our sun.
"We can say that near earth-sized planets in the habitable zone around G stars are common throughout our galaxy," Jenkins said.