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PASADENA, Calif. — NASA announced Thursday its Kepler mission has found the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star that could qualify as Earth 2.0.

Other potential habitable planets have been found before, but the planet could be the closest to mimic Earth.

“Today, Earth is a little less lonely,” Kepler researcher Jon Jenkins said.

The planet, named Kepler 452b, was found 1,400 light-years from Earth. It orbits a star that is 4 percent more massive and 10 percent brighter than the sun. The planet is 1.6 times the size of Earth.

It has an orbit of 384.84 Earth days and is 5 percent more distant than Earth is from the sun, placing it in the habitable zone. The star that Kepler 452b circles is almost exactly like that of the sun.

A visitor there would experience gravity about twice that of Earth’s and planetary scientists say the odds of it having a rocky surface are “better than even.”

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment,” Jenkins said. “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star, longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

If the assumptions of planetary geologists are correct, he said, Kepler-452b could have a thicker atmosphere than Earth’s, as well as active volcanoes.

Besides Kepler 452b, the Kepler team also found 11 other new planet candidates that have diameters between one to two times that of Earth and orbit a star’s habitable zone. Of the 12, nine orbit stars similar to the sun in size and temperature.

“We’ve been able to fully automate our process of identifying planet candidates, which means we can finally assess every transit signal in the entire Kepler data set quickly and uniformly,” said Jeff Coughlin, Kepler scientist at the SETI Institute who led the analysis of a new candidate catalog.

“This gives astronomers a statistically sound population of planet candidates to accurately determine the number of small, possibly rocky planets like Earth in our Milky Way galaxy.”