PIA20698: K2 Finds Earth-Sized Planets (Artist's Concept)
 Mission:  Kepler
 Product Size:  1800 x 1050 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA20698.tif (2.043 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA20698.jpg (139.7 kB)

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This artist's concept shows NASA's Kepler Space Telescope on its K2 mission. In July 2016, an international team of astronomers announced they had discovered more than 100 new planets using this telescope. The batch includes four planets in the size range of Earth that are orbiting a single dwarf star, depicted in this illustration.

Two of these planets are too hot to support life as we know it, but two are in the star's "habitable" zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface. These small, rocky worlds are far closer to their star than Mercury is to our sun. But because the star is smaller and cooler than ours, its habitable zone is much closer. One of the two planets in the habitable zone, K2-72c, has a "year" about 15 Earth-days long -- the time it takes to complete one orbit. This closer planet is likely about 10 percent warmer than Earth. The slightly more distant planet in the habitable zone, K2-72e, has a year lasting 24 Earth days, and would be about 6 percent colder than Earth.

NASA Ames manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

For more information on the Kepler and the K2 mission, visit kepler.nasa.gov/.

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