December 31, 2012 – Scientists predict that sometime in 2013 an 'alien Earth' planet will be discovered!
Over the past few years, and especially this year, scientists have discovered plenty of new amazing and strange planets like the orphan planet, the planet with four suns, and the diamond planet. While these and other 'new' planets may have some features that our planet Earth also has, none of them have enough similar traits to be considered the Earth's twin.
Since 1995, when the first exoplanet that orbits a sun-like star was discovered, astronomers have spotted over 800 worlds way beyond ours and more than 2,300 potential planets have been discovered through the Kepler Space Telescope since 2009.
In December 2011 the Kepler Space Telescope discovered a planet more than twice the size of Earth that was orbiting in the habitable zone of its nearest star, which is just the right position for water and life to exist!
A star's habitable zone is a comfortable area around a star that allows its orbiting planet to have a surface temperature that would not be too cold or hot to host life. Sometimes called "Goldilocks planets," they are just the right temperature to have running water and thriving life forms.
Several other planets like this have been discovered with the help of the telescope, bringing the total of "Goldilocks planets" to nine, however all of them are too big to be true Earth twins. All of the Earth-sized planets that have been discovered to date are too close to their stars to host life, meaning they do not live in their stars' habitable zones.
Technologial developments are the number one reason that we have been able to find so many other worlds in recent years, and scientists think the Earth twin planet will likely also be discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope.