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.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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