Kepler-22b, the newly discovered planet that’s been proclaimed “eerily similar” to Earth, is sitting just outside our solar system, in the habitable zone of a sun-like star, some 600 light years away. The discovery has been called “thrilling,” and “a great gift ... like a Christmas planet.” But how close is the new Earth really?
Since one light year is the equivalent nearly six trillion miles, it would take 22 million years to travel 600 light years on a space shuttle and visit Kepler 22-b with our current technology.
The following diagram from NASA compares our own solar system to the star system Kepler 22-b:
But while we won’t be able to visit this Kepler-22b, scientists say another planet like it and closer to it could be discovered in this lifetime. The Kepler telescope has already detected hundreds of new planets.