astroengine writes: "In a recent presentation, Kepler co-investigator Dimitar Sasselov unexpectedly announced news that the Kepler Space Telescope has discovered dozens of candidate Earth-like exoplanets. Not waiting for the official NASA press release to announce the discovery, Sasselov went into some detail at the TEDGlobal talk in Oxford, UK, earlier this month. This surprise announcement comes hot on the heels of controversy that erupted last month when the Kepler team said they were withholding data on 400 exoplanet candidates until February 2011. In light of this, Sasselov's unofficial announcement has already caused a stir. Keith Cowing, of NASAWatch.com, has commented on this surprise turn of events saying it is really annoying "that the Kepler folks were complaining about releasing information since they wanted more time to analyze it before making any announcements. And then the project's Co-I goes off and spills the beans before an exclusive audience — offshore." Although Sasselov could have handled the announcement better (and waited until NASA made the official announcement), this has the potential to be one of the biggest astronomical discoveries of our time — so long as these Earth-like "candidates" are confirmed by further study."
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