At the 217th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, US space agency NASA trumpeted the discovery of the first "bone-fide" rocky planet - the Kepler 10b.

Detected by NASA's Kepler spacecraft, the new-found world is 1.4 times the diameter of Earth; thus being the smallest-ever exoplanet - planet outside the solar system - to be spotted till now.

According to information shared by NASA's `habitable planet-seeking' Kepler mission, the Kepler-10b orbits the Kepler-10 star which is nearly 560 light years away from Earth. Nearly 4.6 times the mass of the Earth, the Kepler-10b orbits every 0.84 days; and its density, of 8.8 grams per cubic centimeter, is fairly "similar to that of an iron dumbbell."

As per Kepler co-investigator Dimitar Sasselov, the Kepler-10b is "unequivocally rocky, with a surface you could stand on." In addition, the fact that the planet is "20 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun," its surface temperature is notably temperate, at 1,300°C.

NASA is of the opinion that the detection of the Kepler-10b is a momentous find, even though it falls outside the exoplanet `sweet spot' for potential life - the "habitable zone" which boasts the existence of liquid water.

Terming the Kepler-10b discovery as a "significant milestone," Kepler scientist Douglas Hudgins said: "Although this planet is not in the habitable zone, the exciting find showcases the kinds of discoveries made possible by the mission and the promise of many more to come."

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