While so much of the world gushed over the new photos of Pluto–a lifeless, desolate, wasteland of a planet which happens to share a name with a beloved Disney character–the real astronomical discovery this week came with the unassuming name Kepler-452b. The discovery of the planet located 1400 light years from Earth’s orbit offers stunning potential for exploration, and possibly, expansion to the new world. Rumor has it Starbucks and The Gap are already scouting locations.
Five reasons why Kepler-452b might just make for a vacation spot one day
But, in order to better understand why the discovery of this Earth-like planet is such a big deal, here’s a breakdown of five reasons why Kepler-452b might just make for a vacation spot one day.
- Heat. Kepler-452b orbits a star slightly bigger and older than our own sun. The amount of solar radiation it absorbs makes the climate similar to those found here on Earth. With that in mind, it could prove habitable to plants and animal life.
- Size. Kepler-452b is slightly larger than Earth…about 1.6 times bigger. That makes for a massive surface area, so even if parts of the planet are uninhabitable, it’s very likely that at least part of the planet could support life.
- Rock. Well, we hope anyway. Scientists are still trying to determine if Kepler-452b is actually made of rock, or if it’s made of ice from gas and other space compounds. Assuming it is solid, and made of similar rock as the Earth, its gravity would be slightly stronger, but not intolerable to human tourists. Yet another reason to hit the gym before going on vacation.
- Age. Kepler-452b is far older than Earth, which may provide a look into how our own planet might age. For that matter, Kepler might support life of its own, or have at one time, which could serve as a powerful lesson in how to treat our homeworld, not to mention be a source of endless study for astro-archaeologists.
- Hope. Even if Kepler-452b doesn’t prove habitable or even made of rock, it reaffirms scientists’ long held belief that innumerable other planets in the galaxy can support Earth-like life. As the late Carl Sagan observed, a universe without life “would be an awful waste of space!”