Check it out. (And just in time for the release of the Star Wars Blu-ray set.) The Kepler team will have a briefing Thursday morning at 11 AM EDT. Given the recent announcement by the Harps team of a potentially habitable world, the past announcement of another potentially habitable planet GJ581g (the “Cheshire planet”, or if you prefer “Schroedinger’s planet”), and the presence of someone from Lucas Arts’ Industrial Light and Magic… I’m guessing the Kepler team has found their own potentially habitable world. Also, because the team has previously announced candidate planets in the habitable zones of other stars, I’m guessing this announcement is going to have some combination of the following four properties:
1.) it is the smallest planet discovered to-date in the habitable zone;
2.) it is the first planet discovered in the habitable zone around a Sun-type star;
3.) it is the first *confirmed* planet in the habitable zone that has both mass and size contraints, with both properties being within a few times that of the Earth. The mass measurements in this case would likely have been made via transit timing variations.
I think the odds of any/all of these being the case are decent. If all three end up being true… it would make for an extraordinary discovery, as such an object would resemble a potential Earth twin. Of course, it could also resemble a “Venus twin” so we should be cautious about not over-interpreting the result.
DISCLAIMER: I should stress that this is all speculation on my part. For the record, I have absolutely no inside knowledge on this one. Yes, I work at NASA HQ… but had I heard any details about this (I didn’t) I wouldn’t be posting them publicly. So don’t go off reporting this as “what will be announced.” This is nothing more than an educated guess.