TECH
24/10/2013 06:29 BST | Updated 24/10/2013 09:22 BST

Alien Planet Count Passes 1000 Mark Only 20 Years After Search For Exoplanets Began

It's only been 20 years since the first one was discovered but the number of confirmed alien planets has smashed through the 1,000 milestone.

The Extrasolar Planet Encyclopaedia, the leading database of such discoveries, now lists 1,010 confirmed exoplanets.

The first were spotted way back in 1992 when two small planets were found orbiting a pulsar.

exoplanet

A breakdown of the types of exoplanets found

Rapid technological advances have been matched by an upsurge in discoveries.

One of the really exciting things about exoplanets is their sheer variation.

Some have atmospheres of 'plasma water', some have 'ghostly clouds' and one even rains 'deadly hot liquid glass'.

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A further breakdown

The hunt for exoplanets took a bruising recently however when Nasa announced its Kepler Space Telescope had lost the ability to point itself at precise locations in space.

Two broken gyroscope-like reaction wheels mean it is now severely limited in where it can look but will - thankfully - still be able to contribute important observations.

One final thought: 1,000 exoplanets might sound like a lot but one estimate suggests their could be 100 billion - in the Milky Way alone!