Planet paradise

5/2/2013

Twelve hundred light years from Earth in the northern constellation Lyra, two planets could double for Hawaii and Alaska, orbiting an orange dwarf star. They are the outermost orbs in a five-planet star system.

Dubbed Kepler 62e and Kepler 62f in honor of the four-year-old space telescope that detected them, they exist in the Goldilocks zone of that faraway star — not too hot and not too cold to support liquid water and life.

Kepler 62e is 60 percent bigger than Earth. It circles its sun in 122 days and is believed to be temperate, humid, and covered by oceans. Think Hawaii without the beaches.

Its companion, 62f, is half the size of Earth and the colder of the two. It is a rockier version of Alaska, but is believed to have much water. They are as close to each other as Mercury and Venus.

NASA is ecstatic over the discovery, because it isn’t hard to imagine life existing there. Unfortunately, even if humans could travel at the speed of light, it would take more than 1,000 years to get to Kepler 62e and 62f.

But if humans were positive that a breathtaking, uninhabited world similar to Hawaii waited for them at the end of the journey, that would be all the incentive scientists needed to plan and complete the mission.