TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Scientists and science fiction lovers have always suspected we're not alone. And now a new study using NASA data suggests aliens may be out there.
Using new data from the Kepler space telescope, astronomers now have an idea of how many Earth-size planets circle stars similar to our sun.
"The Kepler is an orbiting telescope, that's a huge thing to not have to look through the Earth's atmosphere and to be able to look all day and all night at the same spot," said Tim Swindle of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.
Hi-tech telescopes like Kepler are enabling astronomers to gaze at what is well beyond our solar system.
The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science says 8.8 billion planets orbit in the Goldilocks zone, meaning they're not too hot or not too cold for life to possibly exist.
"The next step is having telescopes good enough to figure out the composition in the atmospheres of these planets to see if we can find another planet that has the kind of chemicals in the atmospheres that might be coming from life," Swindle said.
In other words, that's how we find them, before they find us.