The planet is in the middle of what astronomers call the “Goldilocks zone” — that hard to find place that’s not too hot, not too cold, but just right, where water, which is essential for life, doesn’t freeze or boil. And it has a surface temperature of near 72 degrees, scientists say.
The planet’s confirmation was announced by NASA along with other discoveries by its Kepler telescope, which was launched on a planet-hunting mission in 2009.
The new planet — named Kepler-22b — circles a star similar to our sun and at just about the same distance. The planet’s year of 290 days is even close to ours. But the planet is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, which scientists say is too big for life to exist on its surface.
“This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin,” said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Kepler’s results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA’s science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.”
“The tremendous growth in the number of Earth-size candidates tells us that we’re honing in on the planets Kepler was designed to detect: Those that are not only Earth-size, but also are potentially habitable,” said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif.
NASA admits Kepler cannot find life itself, only where the conditions might be right for it to thrive — everything ranging from microbes to extraterrestrial intelligence.
One might ask: Is it outside the realm of possibility that life could one day be discovered on a planet similar to ours or that intelligent life might someday be found in some galaxy far, far away? Who could deny such a possibility?
Could those who believe in an Almighty Creator limit Him in what He may have already created, or in what He might decide to create in the distant future once His will is done on earth as it is in heaven? Would you?
For now, we are simply told at Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Does this simple statement suggest our Creator wanted humans to know He had a special purpose for our planet by singling it out?
Isaiah 45:18 says, “For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited.” — American Standard Version.
Earth alone seems uniquely qualified to be inhabited, to sustain life — from tiny microbes to intelligent beings. No other planet so far has been discovered to be habitable. Is this a mere coincidence?
Experts say for surface water to remain liquid, a planet must be the right distance from its sun. “Mars is too cold, Venus is too hot, Earth is just right,” said planetary scientist Andrew Ingersoll.
Even other planets in our solar system seem to fulfill the protective function of absorbing and deflecting dangerous objects.
“Asteroids and comets hit us but not excessively so, thanks to the presence of giant gas planets such as Jupiter beyond us,” explain scientists Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee in their book “Rare Earth — Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe.”
Even that soft night light in the sky contributes to the unique ability of earth being able to comfortably sustain life.
Astronomer Jacques Laskar says, “We owe our present climate stability to an exceptional event: The presence of the moon.” Coincidence?
What makes life on earth possible? Experts say it is the abundant water, correct amount of light and heat, a unique atmosphere and productive land with nutrient-rich minerals.
Are all these features — absent on other planets — the product of blind chance or were they deliberately adjusted to make life on earth both possible and pleasurable? You decide.
Thousands of years ago, the Holy Bible stated that our universe was conceived and crafted by a Creator — Almighty God. If that is true, it means the conditions that exist in our solar system are the product of deliberate design. It means the Designer has a purpose. It means life has a purpose.
God’s Word answers “some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe,” — why are we here and where we are going — at Ecclesiastes 12:13, Matthew 22:37-39, Romans 6:23 and 1Timothy 2:3-4.
A higher Intelligence has already reached out to humans on earth. He’s making contact. So far, that leaves all other Earth-like planets lost in space.
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