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Standing on the shore at dusk, you see four planets and an orange sun near the horizon. At night, dazzling ribbons of auroras snake across the sky. You are on Kepler-186f, the smallest known exoplanet thought capable of supporting life.

"Of all the planets we've seen, this is the one that reminds us most of home," says Thomas Barclay at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Barclay and his colleagues spotted the planet in data from NASA's Kepler space telescope. Only 10 per cent larger than Earth, it is the smallest world outside our solar system that is known to orbit in the habitable zone, the region around a star where liquid water can exist.

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