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NASA Confirms 1,284 New Planets From Kepler Mission

NASA imageNASA has validated 1,284 new planets from Kepler space telescope’s July 2015 catalog to post a new record as the single largest batch of confirmed planets to date.

The space agency said Wednesday the new additions were verified among 4,302 planet candidates after meeting the required probability of more than 99 percent to become planets.

Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, said the Kepler findings build on the possibility that there are more planets than stars and will support future missions that aim to discover life in another planet.

Researchers used a statistical analysis method devised by Timothy Morton, associate research scholar at Princeton University, to assess multiple candidates simultaneously, NASA noted.

Approximately 550 planets from the batch are similar in size to Earth and nine of these are likely to have liquid water since they orbit their stars’ habitable zone.

The agency further noted there are now more than 3,200 verified planets among which 2,325 were found through Kepler.

The space telescope works to discover planet candidates by monitoring decreases in brightness when planets transit in front of their stars, NASA said.

Kepler has operated since March 2009 as the first NASA mission to seek potentially habitable planets.

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