Historic NASA Announcement Means We Could Be A Step Closer To Finding Aliens

A 60 percent increase in the number of verified planets.

NASA scientists announced on Tuesday that the Kepler telescope discovered 1,284 new alien planets outside of our solar system. 

"This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler," chief scientist Ellen Stofan said at a press conference. "This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth."

NASA has now found and verified more than 3,200 planets. 

Kepler discovered over 2,325 of those planets.

In the most recent discovery, 550 new planets are rocky and nine of them could potentially sustain life.

"We now know that exoplanets are common, most stars in our galaxy have planetary systems and a reasonable fraction of stars in our galaxy have potentially habitable planets," Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters said via Space.com. "Knowing this the first step toward addressing the question, 'Are we alone in the universe?'"

What's next for NASA includes the 2018 Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which they hope to use to find more new planets, including ones that resemble Earth.

"Planet candidates can be thought of like bread crumbs," said Timothy Morton, the lead author for the scientific paper published today. "If you drop a few large crumbs on the floor, you can pick them up one by one. But, if you spill a whole bag of tiny crumbs, you're going to need a broom. This statistical analysis is our broom."

The findings were based on a research paper published in the May 10 The Astrophysical Journal.