What We Know About the First Earth-Sized Planet In a Habitable Zone

‘When you’re looking for alien life, the best place to look is somewhere like Earth; the only place we know of that life exists. Kepler-186f, the first Earth-sized planet to be found in the habitable zone of a star, is the best bet we’ve ever found.

We’d heard details about this find a little while back, but now NASA has come out with the full announcement which adds more juicy information:

Kepler-186f is 1.1 times the size of Earth. Due to its size and location, it’s likely to be rocky. It’s (probably) not some gaseous ball. It’s 500 lightyears away from Earth. Scientists hypothesize it is at least several billion years old.

Its years are 130 days long and it gets one-third the energy from its star that Earth gets from the sun. So it’s chilly. On the chillest end of the habitable zone. At noon on Kepler-186f, its sun would be about as bright as ours is an hour before sunset. It has four brother planets, though none of them are habitable. They fly around their sun once every four, seven, 13 and 22 days, so they are way too close and too hot for life.’ (io9)

Want To Spot Earth's First Cousin? Look For the Swan in the Sky - Adrienne LaFrance - The Atlantic

Want To Spot Earth’s First Cousin? Look For the Swan in the Sky

‘The Kepler-186 system is in the constellation Cygnus, which stargazers will know as the easy-to-spot swan in the northern hemisphere’s summertime sky. From here on Earth, some 500 light years away, we can’t see Kepler-186f at all. But you can still look in its direction. You won’t see how awesome Cygnus is by just looking up. Molecular dust clouds in the region form a veil called the Great Rift, which makes it hard to see anything more than a hint of what’s happening there. And, oh, is it happening. Cygnus is home to the Kepler system and our newly discovered first-cousin planet, but the constellation is also known for being a major star factory.’  (The Atlantic).

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Nobody lives here:

 

The nearly 5 million Census Blocks with zero population:
‘A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied.

Green shading indicates unoccupied Census Blocks. A single inhabitant is enough to omit a block from shading…’ (mapsbynik).