10 Intriguing Kepler Space Telescope Discoveries

The Kepler space telescope was launched in March 2009 to identify planets outside our galaxy that match the size of Earth. When two of the four “reaction wheels” that maintain the telescope’s precise angling in space stopped working properly in 2013, many people thought the telescope’s mission was over.

Despite the setback, the telescope is working again. Among other intriguing finds, it has discovered another 1,000 exoplanets, which are planets that orbit a star other than our Sun.

10 The Exoplanet With The Longest Year

If you feel that your birthday doesn’t come around quickly enough, be thankful that you don’t live on Kepler-421b. Of all the exoplanets that have been discovered so far, Kepler-421b has the longest year on record.

We find an exoplanet by looking for its shadow as it passes across its sun. The farther away an exoplanet is from its host star, the longer the orbit of the exoplanet. That makes an exoplanet like Kepler-421b harder to detect with our equipment because it so rarely crosses the path of its star.

So how long do you have to wait for your birthday on Kepler-421b? Approximately 704 days. That’s longer than the annual orbit of Mars, which takes 687 days to complete. Kepler-421b also has a surface temperature of -92 degrees Celsius (-135 °F) in case you needed another reason not to live there.

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