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Imagined view from Kepler-10b, a planet that orbits one of the 150,000 stars that the Kepler spacecraft is monitoring. NASA/Kepler Mission/Dana Berry

Goodbye Kepler, hello TESS: Passing the baton in the search for distant planets

When NASA first started planning the Kepler mission, no one knew if the universe held any planets outside our solar system. Thousands of exoplanets later, the search enters a new phase.
Have we really discovered other “Earth-like” planets orbiting around other stars? Understanding what we do and do not know about exoplanets is the key to answering this question. ESO/L. Calcada/N. Risinger/Reuters

Until we get better tools, excited reports of ‘habitable planets’ need to come back down to Earth

Over the last 20 years, advances in the field of exoplanet discovery have excited the imaginations of scientists and enthusiasts alike. But we're in position to know yet whether a planet is habitable.
Let’s hope it’s barren. NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-CalTech

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same…

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