Astronomists discover planet that is about 2.4 times the size of our own and lies in the 'Goldilocks zone' of its solar system
A new planet outside Earth's solar system has been identified with many similarities to our own making it the latest best potential target for life.
Kepler 22b contains both land and water and has temperatures which average around 72 degrees (22 Celsius). It also contains the right atmosphere to potentially support life.
Bill Borucki, Kepler Principal Investigator at NASA Ames Research Center says that the new planet is in the habitable zone and just right for human life
It is, however, 600 light years from Earth. The planet, where a year lasts 290 days, was first spotted two years ago.
However, Nasa scientists using the agency's Kepler space telescope have now concluded that it offers the best hope yet for future human habitation outside the Solar System.
One of the key criteria for a planet to be habitable is that it remains roughly the right distance from its main star to be neither too cold nor too hot.
This range of ideal temperatures is known to scientists as the "Goldilocks" zone, as the temperature is "just right" for life.
Bill Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA Ames Research Centre, said, "We have now got good planet confirmation with Kepler 22b. We are certain that it is in the habitable zone and if it has a surface it ought to have a nice temperature."
There are now three planets outside the system, known as exoplanets, which experts believe could potentially be colonised by future generations.
French astronomers identified Gliese 581d, pronounced gleezer, which is far closer at around 20 light years away.
600 The distance (in light years) that Kepler 22b is away from Earth