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Chance Of Extraterrestrial Life Grows As New Planets Discovered, Scientists Say

BLOOMFIELD HILLS (WWJ) - Scientists believe more planets found means it's more likely that we're not alone in the galaxy.

NASA on Tuesday announced that the Kepler Space Telescope has validated nearly 1,300 previously unknown planets orbiting outside our solar system.

Mike Narlock, head of astronomy at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, says the discovery brings to about 3,200 the number of known exoplanets in our galaxy, and is the largest collection of planets ever discovered.

This development, he said, could eventually lead to the news that extraterrestrial life in fact exists.

"We now know that some of them are rocky planets like the earth," Narlock told WWJ Newsradio 950's Sandra McNeill. "And some of them — a smaller subset — are actually in the sort of Goldilocks zone from their star, where it's not too hot and it's not too cold for their to be liquid water. So the chances of there being other life out there is growing as we continue to search."

Nine of the new planets found appear to orbit in the habitable zone of their stars, Narlock said.

"If there are planets like the earth out orbiting other stars and they have the right conditions or similar conditions than we have here on the earth, there's no reason to think that what happened here couldn't happen out there."

Does this mean there could be sci-fi movie-style aliens or human-like intelligent life? Narlock said everything is on the table.

"You never know. It might be more simple forms of life, like bacteria or less complex life forms; it could more complex life form. You just never know, and that's the beauty of science. We're constantly looking and constantly learning," he said. "We might keep looking and not find a thing, but if we don't keep looking we won't know."

Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, concurs.

"This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth," she said, in a news release. [Read more from NASA, HERE].

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