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Spacecraft sees signs of 1,200-plus worlds

Kepler mission releases details on newly discovered candidate extrasolar planets

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3:41pm, February 2, 2011

Astronomers have identified 1,235 candidate planets beyond the solar system, including 54 where life might have a chance of gaining a foothold.

Extrapolating from the findings, which are based on observations of bright stars in a tiny patch of sky monitored by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, some 20,000 planets may reside in other regions of the Milky Way where liquid water is stable, says Kepler chief scientist Bill Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. He reported the results, which are based on Kepler’s first four months of operation, at a NASA pr

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