NASA’s Kepler Mission has discovered 54 planet candidates that orbit in the habitable zone of their host star; this so-called “Goldilocks” region is “not too hot or too cold, but just right” for the possible existence of liquid water on the surface of a planet. Four of those candidates are near Earth-sized planets in orbit around small, cool stars. The findings, discussed at a news conference held Feb. 2 at NASA Headquarters in Washington, are based on data collected by the space telescope between May and September, 2009. Ground-based observatories will be used this spring and summer to help determine if these candidates can be validated as planets.
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