It is approximately 200 light years from Earth and is believed to be a frozen world of rock and gas, about the size of Saturn. Temperatures on its surface can reach a chilly -99.4F (-73C) to -149.8F(101C). It orbits the two stars which also circle each other, one about two-thirds the size of our sun, the other about a fifth the size of our sun. Each orbit takes 229 days at a distance of 65 million miles; the stars eclipse each other every three weeks or so.
“This discovery confirms a new class of planetary systems that could harbor life,” Kepler principal investigator William Borucki said. “Given that most stars in our galaxy are part of a binary system, this means the opportunities for life are much broader than if planets form only around single stars.
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft is equipped with a space observatory. Its mission is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine the fraction of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets. Kepler was launched on March 6, 2009. Its planned mission lifetime is 3.5 years or more.