Being brought back to life after going into emergency mode, Kepler continues to defy odds as it recently spotted a huge trove of planets.

NASA just announced that the planet-hunting spacecraft discovered 1,284 new exoplanets, the largest ever single trove of exoplanet discovery.

What makes the discovery such a huge deal is the application of a new technique that hastened the confirmation time of exoplanets. Using transit signals, Kepler scientists can calculate the size of planets, their relative distance to their sun, and whether or not they have the potential to host life.

Of the newly discovered planets, scientists tagged nine to be potentially habitable.

But the question remains: do they presently host alien life?

For scientist to know that, the planets must be studied in closer detail — an ability that Kepler spacecraft does not have. With Kepler ending its planet-hunting mission in two years' time, scientists are hoping that the James Webb Space Telescope and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will give more vital information about the alien worlds that abound the universe.

NASA Astrophysics Division director Paul Hertz said when Kepler was launched, they did not have the slightest idea it would discover anything at all.

"This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever-closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe," said Hertz.

One of the ultimate goals in planet-hunting missions is detecting light from the potentially habitable exoplanets. Signs of life in these planets can be analyzed using biosignature gases.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Sara Seager and her colleagues believe that having a comprehensive list of biosignature molecules would increase the chance of finding more habitable planets and identifying whether or not they previously hosted alien life.

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientist Nancy Kiang said the search for alien life while in its early stages is rapidly evolving. Kiang acknowledged the work of the researchers who searched and documented thousands of biogenic gas molecules.

"These will inspire a new body of research into identifying also larger molecules, investigating their origin and fate here, and their potential expression on exoplanets as signs of life," said Kiang, who is also a senior editor of Astrobiology where Seager and her team's study was published.

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