On June 19, 2017, the United States space agency NASA announced that 219 new planet candidates have been discovered by the Kepler space telescope. These 219 new planet candidates discovered are outside the solar system.
Ten of these discovered planets are close to the size of the earth, are potentially rocky and are orbiting in the habitable zone of their star. The habitable zone is the range of distance from a star within which liquid water could emerge on the surface of the planet to support life.
According to CNN, the programme scientist Mario Perez said,
The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near-Earth analogs: planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth.
According to IANS, the telescope has been able to detect around 4,035 planet candidates till now, of which 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. There have been nearly 50 planets that have been detected as the near-earth zone habitable zone candidates and 30 of them have been verified.
According to Xinhua Net, NASA said in an issued statement,
This is the most comprehensive and detailed catalog release of candidate exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, from Kepler's first four years of data. It's also the final catalog from the spacecraft's view of the patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation.
The Kepler spacecraft was launched in the year 2009 with a mission to look for the exoplanets in the region in proximity of our galaxy. These exoplanets were being found by detecting a transit or the minuscule drop in a star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses the path in front of it.
According to CNN, a Kepler research scientist Susan Thompson said,
It feels like the end of an era, but actually, I see it as a new beginning. It's amazing, the things that Kepler has found. It has shown us these terrestrial worlds, and we still have all of this work to do to really understand how common Earths are in the galaxy. I am really excited to see what people are going to do with this catalog.