Astronomers found Earth's 'older, bigger cousin.' And it's incredible.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ... wait, no.

Today, in our galaxy, NASA announced something big.

Astronomers from the Kepler spacecraft mission — a team devoted to spotting other worlds floating around out there in the abyss — announced the discovery of another planet.


That news (while admittedly pretty cool) isn't too groundbreaking on its own. After all, there are lots of other planets out there. But the characteristics of this particular new planet are what really has people talking.

The spacecraft identified Kepler-452b — a planet strikingly similar to Earth in many, many ways.

So similar, in fact, it's the most Earth-like planet we've ever discovered. In other words — from what NASA knows of Kepler-452b now — it could have the potential to host life.

Check out this artist's concept of what Kepler-452b might look like! Pretty Earth-ish, I'd say. Photo courtesy of NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle.

Kepler-452b is in its star's habitable zone, which means liquid water could exist there.

Earth is unique in that it's not too hot or cold for liquid water to exist. This is largely due to our placement within our solar system — we're not too far away or too close to the sun.

We're in our solar system's "Goldilocks zone," if you will.

Kepler-452b is incredibly similar to Earth in this regard. Kepler-452b revolves around its star every 385 days, as opposed to Earth's 365.

Speaking of Kepler-452b's host star ... it's the same type as our sun. That's important.

Stars are just like people — they come in all shapes and sizes (and temperatures). Those factors greatly affect the planets that revolve around them.

While Kepler has discovered other planets similar to Earth in some respects, this is the first time scientists have spotted one that's in the habitable zone of a G star, like our sun.

Image by NASA.

Kepler-452b and Earth are about the same size, too. And our "older, bigger cousin" might have volcanoes!

Kepler-452b's radius is just about 1.5 times that of Earth's. NASA believes there's a good chance Kepler-452b is also a rocky planet (as opposed to a big ball of gas), like Earth. If it is, Kepler-452b likely has volcanic activity.

Not too different, huh? Just so we're clear, though — Earth and Kepler-452b aren't actually this close. Kepler-452b is about 1,400 light years away from us.

Right now, though, we have more questions than answers when it comes to Kepler-452b.

There's still a lot to learn about our new (relatively close) neighbor.

When reached for comment, NASA's Michele Johnson told Upworthy that NASA still isn't sure if Kepler-452b has an atmosphere. We may only figure that out when we have more technologically advanced space telescopes, according to John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator.

But let's not let Kepler-452b hog the spotlight! It's just one of a dozen other potential Earth-like planets Kepler announced in its latest update.

While Kepler-452b is the only "Earth 2.0"-type planet NASA confirmed on July 23, 2015, the group recently discovered a dozen other possible Earth-like planets.

GIF via "Community."

So for anyone hoping we stumble upon another Earth out there, there's still plenty to look forward to.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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