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NASA on The Hunt for 'Rogue One: Star Wars' Planets

Dec 20, 2016 04:36 AM EST

NASA has already discovered a thousand exoplanets outside of the solar system. Surprisingly, some of these planets greatly resemble the water, ice, and desert-covered world shown in George Lucas's' latest film, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

With the help of the Kepler space telescope, NASA astronomers have found the Saturn-sized planet named Kepler-16b. It is located approximately 200 light-years from Earth. Just like Luke Skywalker's home planet in the film called Tatooine, Kepler-16b has a striking resemblance to it which is why even astronomers have now nicknamed the exoplanet with the same name.

"Astronomers have discovered that about half of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy are pairs, rather than single stars like our sun," said NASA officials in a statement, adding, "So while Kepler-16b, aka Tatooine, is probably too cold and gaseous to be home to life, or a hopeful desert farm boy, it's a good bet that there might be a habitable Tatooine 'twin' out there somewhere."

A planet also featured on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which was a desert world also exists. Mars, which is cold and arid, is mostly made up of deserts. As for in "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back," the snow-covered planet called Hoth resembles Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter.

"The recurring theme of desert worlds in 'Star Wars' is really interesting, because there is some research that shows that these would be likely habitable worlds to find," explained Shawn Domagal-Goldman, an astrobiologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, adding, "The lack of water on a desert planet might be what makes it more habitable. Water amplifies changes to climates and can cause planets to end up being really hot like Venus, or really cold like Europa."

Scientists have yet to discover a water filled planet like that in the "Star Wars" films particularly planet Scarif from "Rogue One" and planet Kamino from "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones."

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