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NASA's Deep Space Planet Hunter Discovers 100 More Exoplanets

Rendering of Kepler at work. Photo: NASA
Rendering of Kepler at work. Photo: NASA

NASA’s Deep Space planet hunter discovered 104 new exoplanets.

Exoplanets are planets that exist outside our solar system – and NASA’s Kepler deep space craft is on the hunt to find them.

Scientist confirmed the new exoplanets based on observations from the Kepler telescope. Four of the newly discovered planets could be rocky just like earth. They're between 20 and 50 percent larger than Earth and are about 181 light-years away.

Kepler finds exoplanets by focusing on a distant star. When a planet passes between the telescope and the star, the star’s light dims ever so slightly. Kepler can measure these dips in light and sends the data back to Earth.

On the ground, scientists use terrestrial telescopes to confirm the planet, what it’s made of, and how big it is.

Scientists are planning more space telescopes to hunt for exoplanets like James Web Space Telescope and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.

NASA announced a huge finding of Kepler exoplanet discoveries, more than 1,200, earlier this year.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."