More Than 1,000 New Planets Discovered By NASA

NASA has announced its largest-ever discovery of new planets using its Keplar space telescope.

Some 1,284 new planets outside our solar system have been confirmed, including nearly 550 which could be rocky planets like Earth, based on their size.

Experts say the findings bring hope that a planet like Earth could eventually be found, and it may also mean that there are more planets than stars.

The unmanned observatory, launched in 2009, has been scanning 150,000 stars for signs of orbiting planets, particularly those that might be able to support life.

Kepler works by looking at a dimming in the light of star, known as a transit, each time an orbiting planet passes in front of it, like what happened on Monday when Mercury passed in front of the Sun.

The latest discovery more than doubles the number of known exoplanets found with the telescope.

The Planet Mercury Moves Between The Sun And Earth

"Of the nearly 5,000 total planet candidates found to date, more than 3,200 now have been verified, and 2,325 of these were discovered by Kepler," NASA said.

Experts identified 4,302 potential planets, and of those, 1,284 reached the 99% probability mark needed to earn the status of "planet".

Another 1,327 candidates are more likely than not to be actual planets, but they do not meet the threshold and will require extra investigations.

The remaining 707 are more likely to be some other astrophysical phenomena, said NASA.

The agency's spokesman Paul Hertz said: "Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy.

"Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars.

"This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever-closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe."

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