As controllers recovered NASA’s Kepler mission from a safe mode triggered by an onboard false alarm last month, researchers used the big ground-based Keck telescope to confirm its first discovery of a rocky planet circling a distant star. Dubbed Kepler 10b, the planet is only 1.4 times the size of Earth. That makes it the smallest extrasolar planet yet found, although its proximity to its star—20 times closer than Mercury is to the Sun—makes it much too hot to support life. The ...


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