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Kepler 22b: NASA confirms 'super-Earth' that could hold life

In another step toward finding Earth-like planets that may hold life, NASA said that the Kepler space telescope has confirmed its first-ever planet in a habitable zone outside our solar system.

(TIMES OF INDIA) Washington -- French astronomers earlier this year confirmed the first rocky exoplanet to meet key requirements for sustaining life. But Kepler-22b, initially glimpsed in 2009, is the first the US space agency has been able to confirm.

Confirmation means that astronomers have seen it crossing in front of its star three times. But it doesn't mean that astronomers know whether life actually exists there, simply that the conditions are right.

Such planets have the right distance from their star to support water, plus a suitable temperature and atmosphere to support life.

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Coronavirus

Why Making COVID Predictions Is Actually Getting Harder

We know more about COVID than ever before, but that doesn't make it easier to predict what will happen this year. It also remains to be seen if we'll put the lessons we learned into practice.

​A young boy who arrived on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

A young boy who arrived from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

Duncan Robertson

In 2020, we knew very little about the novel virus that was to become known as COVID-19. Now, as we enter 2023, a search of Google Scholar produces around five million results containing the term.

So how will the pandemic be felt in 2023? This question is in some ways impossible to answer, given a number of unknowns. In early 2020, the scientific community was focused on determining key parameters that could be used to make projections as to the severity and extent of the spread of the virus. Now, the complex interplay of COVID variants, vaccination and natural immunity makes that process far more difficult and less predictable.

But this doesn’t mean there’s room for complacency. The proportion of people estimated to be infected has varied over time, but this figure has not fallen below 1.25% (or one in 80 people) in England for the entirety of 2022. COVID is very much still with us, and people are being infected time and time again.

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