The 1,284 newly discovered exoplanets were only announced as such after being identified with 99% confidence, but as NASA admits, that leaves out 1,327 other likely exoplanets that couldn't reach that 99% certainty.
The Kepler mission only looked at one particular part of the sky, so while it only identified a select number of planets and stars even though there are billions more out there.
The division now is between two categories: "super-Earths", or rocky planets about 1.5 times the size of our own, and "mini-Neptunes", gassy planets more than 2.5 times Earth's size. To date, Kepler has found 4,034 planet candidates.
Including other telescope surveys, scientists have confirmed the existence of almost 3,500 planets beyond the solar system.
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The Kepler team has also discovered that small planets typically occur in two very distinct sizes - Earth-size planets and gaseous planets smaller than Neptune.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched the Kepler telescope in 2009 to learn if Earth-like planets are common or rare.
Ten of the planets are potentially rocky, close to the size of Earth and within the habitable zone of the stars they orbit - meaning they could support liquid water on their surface, Perez explained. That number includes about 50 worlds that may be about the same size and temperature as Earth.
This latest batch of planetary discoveries marks the final step in Kepler's observation of the Cygnus constellation.
The result: 4,034 exoplanet candidates.
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The Kepler telescope detects an exoplanet when it sees a faint drop in a star's brightness.
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Kepler's steering wheels broke down several years ago, leaving it unable to scan the stars using the same technique that has yielded so many new worlds. He compared the identification of these new planet classes to the discovery that mammals and lizards are separate branches on the tree of life. There will be presentations and panel discussions with some of the world's foremost scientists about planet-hunting and the search for other Earths.
The Kepler Space Telescope is still in space, with limited motion working on the K2 mission.
It has enough fuel to keep identifying candidates until summer 2018 and is helping bridge the gap between Kepler and TESS by identifying targets for the James Webb Space Telescope to observe. In about a decade, NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST, will be able to image these planets for the first time. "That's great", said Courtney Dressing, a NASA Sagan Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. "It's awesome the things that Kepler has found, it has shown us these terrestrial worlds, and we still have all this work to do to understand how common Earths are in the galaxy".
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