On Tuesday of this week, astronomers from NASA's Kepler spacecraft made an announcement that they had discovered a pair of planets that were similar in size to the Earth that were orbiting a distant star similar to our Sun. The new planets are the smallest yet to be found beyond our solar system. One of the planets is the size of Earth and the other planet is slightly smaller than Venus.

The way Kepler works is that it detects planets by watching for blinks when they move in front of their stars. Kepler has so far discovered 2,326 potential planets, 207 that would be Earth-size if confirmed, since it was first launched in 2009. This week's discovery is important because although it has always been anticipated that there would be a discovery of an earth size planet, the significance of this means that the detection of Earth-size planets at larger distances is technically possible. It has been called a watershed moment in human history.

The two new planets, Kepler 20e and Kepler 20f, are so close to their star that they are roasting and therefore unlivable. Their star, which is slightly smaller and cooler than our Sun, is about 950 light years away from us. Kepler had previously found three larger Neptune-like planets that were also orbiting around it. The two new earth size planets are presumed to be rocky orbs that formed in the outskirts of their planetary system and then migrated inward.

The next major goal astronomers say, is to find an Earth-size planet in the correct zone of a star, where conditions are temperate for water and thus life as we know it. That time is yet to come.

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