First Earth-Like Planet Found in Space

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Kepler-10b is the first planet to be Earth-like, mostly made up of rock (Kepler Mission / Dana Berry / NASA)

Kepler 10-b, a new rocky Earth-like planet found by NASA, could be the missing link between Earth and the rest of the galaxy by being the first possible habitable planet found in the universe.

(See pictures of Earth from space.)

Unique to other known planets, Kepler 10-b is made of mostly rock, whereas most planets consist of gas or ice. Just 40% larger than Earth, it is the smallest planet besides Earth found. Because of its characteristics, it is a crucial piece in the search for possible life.

(Read more about other new planets.)

Astronomers have long speculated that such planets do exist, but Kepler wasn’t discovered until a telescope in Hawaii sensed its gravitational pull.  Read the full report by TIME’s Michael Lemonick.