Yesterday, everyone got excited (PopSci included) at the idea, drawn from Kepler scientist Dimitar Sasselov’s TED talk, that the Kepler planet-hunting mission had turned up 140 new “Earth-like” planets.
In a blog post today, Sasselov clarifies that that wasn’t exactly what he meant.
“At this time we have found only planet candidates . . . Planet candidates are just that: ‘candidates.'” Meaning that while the odds of finding Earth-like planets remain strong — and PopSci remains optimistic — confirmation is, despite yesterday’s hopes, still pending, as to whether the sightings are a) actually planets and b) actually Earth-like.