SILICON VALLEY, California - NASA has just released exciting new data - the Kepler space telescope has found another 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are similar to Earth.
All 10 are rocky planets rather than gas-based, all are smaller in size like planet Earth, and all are orbiting closely enough to their Sun-like star that water would be capable of pooling on each planet's surface.
Since it first launched in 2009, Kepler has identified more than 4,000 planet candidates, of which about half have been verified as exoplanets, along with about 60 Earth-like planets that scientists say could sustain life.
The Kepler telescope discovers new planet by watching a star's brightness, which dims briefly when a planet crosses that star in orbit.
During a press conference at NASA's Ames Research Center in California Monday, NASA scientists said one planet almost matches Earth exactly, with a nearly one-year orbit, yet is about one-third wider.
NASA Scientist Mario Perez says the new data could have an impact on future space missions.
"Are we alone? Maybe Kepler today has told us indirectly, although we need confirmation, that we are probably not alone," Perez said.
Perez says NASA would need 400 Kepler telescopes to cover the entire sky, which means a mass amount of planets have yet to be found.