NASA confirms discovery of more than 5,000 worlds with potentially billions to go


By Cid Campos

PHOTO: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Of the various exoplanets discovered, 30% are gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn, 31% are super-Earths, and 35% are Neptune-like. Only a mere 4% of the exoplanets discovered are terrestrial rocky planets similar to Earth or Mars.

"Each one of them is a new world, a brand-new planet. I get excited about every one because we don't know anything about them," said Jessie Christiansen, the science lead for the archive and a research scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The diversity of exoplanets is unlike anything in our solar system. Some are hot Jupiters, mini Neptunes, and even larger Earth-like planets.

Previous exoplanet discoveries have been made by telescopes and satellites such as the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Meanwhile, the Kepler Space Telescope was responsible for discovering two-thirds of the 5,000 planets.

With newer advanced telescopes set to launch within the decade and the vastness of our universe, there is no telling what else is out there to be discovered. It could be a planet raining diamonds, a planet with never-ending oceans, or maybe even life.


Edited by Audrei Jeremy A. Mendador
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