NASA Discovers Nearly 1,300 New Planets
NASA — the U.S. space agency — said it found nearly 1,300 planets outside our solar system.
Nine of the planets are orbiting stars at the distance that can support life.
NASA said that the Kepler space telescope confirmed the existence of 1,284 planets. This result came from studying more than 4,000 possible planets identified by a statistical analysis.
Scientists said the research is important to help them find out whether there is life on other planets.
Paul Hertz is NASA's director of astrophysics. He said, "this gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth."
He said before the Kepler space telescope launched, scientists did not know whether exoplanets—those outside our solar system—were rare or common in the galaxy.
"We now know there could be more planets than stars," Hertz said.
He said the information brings humans a little closer to finding out whether they are alone in the universe.
To reach this number of planets, scientists looked at thousands of pieces of data. The researchers used a new statistical analysis method to study thousands of candidates in Kepler's database for traits that would establish them as planets.
Princeton University's Timothy Morton led the analysis. It involved watching a planet's brightness for changes that would mean it was orbiting its star, the way that Earth circles the sun.
The data gave scientists a "planethood probability percentage" to help the experts focus on candidates most likely to turn out to be actual planets.
But, with so many objects in space, what makes a planet, a planet?
The International Astronomical Union (IAU), approved the first scientific definition of a planet in August 2006. It says the object must have three things to be called a planet.
It must orbit its star. Second, it must be big enough that gravity shapes it into a ball. And third, the pull of that gravity must be strong enough to clear small objects out of the way of its orbit.
NASA said nearly 550 of the planets were "rocky planets," somewhat like Earth, based on their size. Nine of those planets were orbiting their suns at the distance that would allow liquid water to pool.
That means, they have conditions that would make life possible. At least, the kind of life that exists here on Earth.
Natalie Batalha is Kepler mission scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California. She thinks there is life on other planets.
"Absolutely, no question," she said. "Why would we be the only ones?"
She used a line from the movie "Contact," that astronomer Carl Sagan was supposed to have said. If humans were the only life in the universe, it would be "an awful waste of space."
Recently, popular movies like "The Martian" and "Interstellar" have focused on finding new homes for humans in case we destroy Earth.
Batalha said she is focused on searching for life, not on finding new homes for humans.
"We have so many questions," she said. "Is DNA the only code that sustains life? How does life begin? Questions about the origin of life, why we're here."
That new number, 1,284 new planets, makes the idea that we are "alone in the universe" seem more and more unlikely.
I'm Anne Ball.
1.solar system 太阳系
Two further aspects of the solar system are notable.
2.thousands of 成千上万的
A computer consists of thousands of components.
3.in case 万一；假使
Do you have any back-ups in case I cannot be there?
4.no question 毫无疑问
There's no question that the ads had a real impact on the public.
1.The data gave scientists a "planethood probability percentage" to help the experts focus on candidates most likely to turn out to be actual planets.
focus on 集中；专注
This allows the company to focus on what it does best.
Our policy is to focus on developing these areas.
2.Batalha said she is focused on searching for life, not on finding new homes for humans.
searching for 搜寻
Doctors are searching for a cure that will wipe out cancer.
She ruffled the pages of the book, searching for answers.
NASA称开普勒太空望远镜已发现了1284颗行星 。科学家在对4000多颗行星的数据分析后，得出了该结果 。
保罗·赫兹是NASA天体物理学主任 。他表示，我们希望在那些行星中，能够找到另外一个地球 。
为了解这些行星的数量，科学家们查看了数千份数据 。研究人员运用最新的统计分析法来研究开普勒数据库中的研究对象，有些特征表明这些研究对象可能是行星 。
2006年8月，国际天文学联合会（IAU）首次批准了对行星的科学定义 。其规定星体须具备一下三点才能被称作是行星 。
第一，必须围绕其恒星运行 。第二，必须足够大，重力能将其塑造成球形 。第三，其重力能够清除自身轨道上的小物体 。
NASA表示，根据大小，这些行星中有550颗都是“岩态行星”，就像地球一样 。有9颗行星围绕远处的恒星运行，恒星使得液态水存留下来 。
这就意味着，这些行星具备出现生命迹象的条件 。至少是地球上存在的这种生命 。
娜塔莉·巴塔哈是加利福尼亚埃姆斯研究中心开普勒任务的科学家 。她认为其他行星上存在着生命 。
“我们面临着很多问题，”她说道 。“DNA是维系生命唯一的编码吗？生命的起源是怎样的？以及有关生命起源、我们为何在此等问题 。”