February 20, 2013

NASA's Kepler Mission Discovers Tiny Planet System

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered a new planetary system that is home to the smallest planet yet found around a star like our Sun, approximately 210 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. 

The artist's concept depicts the new planet dubbed Kepler-37b. The planet is slightly larger than our Moon, measuring about one-third the size of Earth. Kepler-37b orbits its host star every 13 days at less than one-third the distance Mercury is to the Sun. The estimated surface temperature of this smoldering planet, at more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit (700 degrees Kelvin), would melt the zinc in a penny. 

Astronomers don't think the tiny planet has an atmosphere or could support life as we know it, but the Moon-size world is almost certainly rocky in composition. 

Image Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
Explanation from: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/multimedia/images/tiny-planet-kepler-37b.html

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