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NASA confirms the first Earth-like planet

Astronomers with NASA's Kepler mission have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet in a “habitable zone” outside our solar system.

Space telescope called 'discovery machine'

Ames, Iowa -- The massive amounts of quality data being returned by NASA's Kepler Mission space telescope is making it a "discovery machine," U.S. astronomers say.

Launched in March 2009, Kepler is orbiting the sun measuring the minute changes in the brightness of thousand of stars in an effort to find Earth-like planets possibly capable of supporting life.

The quantity and quality of the information Kepler is gathering is almost overwhelming, researchers say.

"It's really amazing," Steve Kawaler, an Iowa State professor of physics and astronomy, says. "It's as amazing as I feared. I didn't appreciate how hard it is to digest all the information efficiently."

Kepler "is a discovery machine," Kawaler says.

Mirrors for new orbiting telescope tested

Huntsville, Ala. -- The mirrors for an ambitious new U.S. space telescope are being put through their paces in a test -- at hundreds of degrees below freezing, scientists say.

Six beryllium mirrors intended for the James Webb Space Telescope to be launched in 2014, were subjected to a temperature of minus 415 degrees Fahrenheit meant to bend them into the perfect shape, reported Saturday.

The ultra-cold trial is being performed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The tests will tell scientists how well each mirror will handle changes in
temperature over a range of environments in space, NASA officials said.