Published: March 1, 2011


With help from CU students, scientists have discovered the first Earth-sized planet outside our solar system.

The rocky planet — identified by the Kepler space telescope controlled by CU students — could have profound implications for the existence of many such Earth-like planets in our galaxy. Called Kepler-10b, the planet orbits a sun-like star only 1.8 million miles away, subjecting it to blast-furnace temperatures of at least 2,500 degrees on its daytime face. Glowing like molten lava, it is 560 light years away and 1.4 times as wide as Earth but 4.6 times as heavy.

The Kepler spacecraft launched in 2009 with a camera capable of looking at 170,000 stars simultaneously within 3,000 light-years of Earth.

“With the number of planets Kepler has already discovered, the possibility of finding habitable planets has increased,” says junior aerospace engineering student Melanie Dublin. “It’s fascinating to think that I had a role in that discovery as a Kepler student spacecraft operator.”