By Carlos A. Quiroga

Some 1,400 light years away, Earth has a cousin, a planet believed to be remarkably similar to our planet.

The discovery was announced Thursday by NASA (the US National Air and Space Agency), bolstering hopes of finding life elsewhere in the universe.

NASA called the new planet Kepler-452b, because it was discovered by the Kepler telescope launched in 2009 to survey a sampling of nearby stars in an attempt to learn if planets like Earth were common in the galaxy. Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician and astronomer, a key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, best known for his laws of planetary motion.

“In my mind, this is the closest thing we have to another planet like the Earth,” NASA astronomer Jon Jenkins told reporters on a conference call.

According to BGR.com, a site of technological news, Kepler 452-b could be the first planet found outside our solar system capable of sustaining human life.

The planet was described by NASA as Earth’s “older, bigger cousin” and it is the smallest planet discovered so far in the so-called “habitable” zone in a solar system in which a planet is capable of sustaining pools of water on its surface.

The planet is significantly larger than Earth, with a diameter that’s 60% larger. This means that walking on the planet would feel much less comfortable than walking on Earth since it would have much stronger gravity.

At 1,400 light years away from Earth, even if we figured out how to travel at the speed of light it would take almost a millennium and a half just to reach it.

Anyway, NASA is watching the universe while most of us do not care about our own blue planet.

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