Nasa Exoplanet Archive Makes Search For Alien Worlds Public

Nasa's archive of alien worlds has helped the public find new planets it might otherwise have missed.

All of the exoplanets - worlds outside our solar system - found so far by the Kepler space telescope have been collected into an online database.

The Nasa Exoplanet Archive allows anyone to leaf through our database of other worlds - including those that might be able to support life.

More than 2,740 objects that might be planets have been found by Kepler so far. About 817 planets have been confirmed to be orbiting 642 stars - including several that look similar to Earth - but Nasa thinks up to 80% could be planets.

The archive makes all of the confirmed and unconfirmed planets available for research, allowing anyone to potentially help discover new worlds.

The data will be made available publicly very quickly, instead of going through a long confirmation process, Nasa said.

That information includes detaais about the size and possible composition of every planet discovered so far, as well as its orbital data.

Nasa said the move was an important step to opening up information about our galactic neighbourhood to research.

It has already been used by High School students to map the location of known planets against the stars as seen by Earth.

And a group of amateur astronomers - Planet Hunters - was able to find 42 new planets from the data after it was made publicly available.

"The list is dynamic so if we, or a community person, makes an observation and says, 'Hey, I looked at this planet candidate but it's really an eclipsing binary,' then that entry in the archive will be changed," said Kepler team member Steve Howell to

Nasa said:

"The NASA Exoplanet Archive collects and serves public data to support the search for and characterization of extra-solar planets (exoplanets) and their host stars. The data include published light curves, images, spectra and parameters, and time-series data from surveys that aim to discover transiting exoplanets."

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