CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – Astronomers have discovered 1,284 more planets beyond our solar system, with nine possibly in orbits suitable for surface water that could bolster the prospects of supporting life, scientists said on Tuesday.

The announcement brings the total number of confirmed planets outside the solar system to 3,264. Called exoplanets, the bulk were detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which searched for habitable planets like Earth.

The new planets were identified during Kepler’s four-year primary mission, which ended in 2013, and previously had been considered planet-candidates.

Scientists announcing the largest single finding of planets to date used a new analysis technique that applied statistical models to confirm the batch as planets, while ruling out scenarios that could falsely appear to be orbiting planets.

“We now know there could be more planets than stars,” Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director, said in a news release. “This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe.”

Of the new planets, nearly 550 could be rocky like Earth, NASA said. Nine planets are the right distance from a star to support temperatures at which water could pool. The discovery brings to 21 the total number of known planets with such conditions, which could permit life.

Kepler looked for slight changes in the amount of light coming from about 150,000 target stars. Some of the changes were caused by orbiting planets passing across, or transiting, the face of their host stars, relative to Kepler’s line of sight.

The phenomenon is identical to Monday’s transit of Mercury across the sun, as seen from Earth’s perspective.

The analysis technique, developed by Princeton University astronomer Tim Morton and colleagues, analyzed which changes in the amount of light are due to planets transiting and which are due to stars or other objects.

The team verified, with a more than 99 percent accuracy, that 1,284 candidates were indeed orbiting planets, Morton said.

The results suggest that more than 10 billion potentially habitable planets could exist throughout the galaxy, said Kepler lead scientist Natalie Batalha, with NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. The nearest potentially habitable planet is about 11 light years from Earth.

“Astronomically speaking, that’s a very close neighbor,” she said.

Star Warfare 2 – Payback is a game from Freyr Software I came across in the Apple app store. Right away, it looked like something interesting. This game is a fairly simple sci-fi shooter with a variety of game modes. The story is that a space-faring organization called the UNCC discovered a revolutionary substance on a planet where they already have a colony established. Soon after its discovery, large aliens begin attacking the colonists, forcing them to defend their home.

Lots of good things to say about this title, there’s a variety of different enemy types, such as charging, shooting, hunting, flying type aliens and more. The settings are nicely crafted, they have a off-world colony, alien wilderness and space-ship settings. There is also a variety of space-age armour, weapons, robotic companions and armour modules, some with different functions.

I find the gameplay to be satisfying, it has single-player (offline mode), three player co-op, team deathmatch and player controlled boss battles. In co-op, you’re blasting aliens and scrambling to collect coins before the other players. The aliens can be some nasty customers, they always have me closely watching my back, Team-deathmatch is very unique, players have all various types of armour and energy weapons, it can be challenging for first time players, however. In the scope of the game’s story I wonder what their motivations are for the colonists to be fighting among themselves, perhaps the immense value of their mining operations.

Some may find this type of game to be repetative, also, there’s no in-game communication, it has the typical features of free games on the App Store and I think it would be an improvement if each alien had its own animalistic sound. These minor complains aside, I’m really enjoying Star Warfare 2. The simple storyline allows my mind to wander about it’s grey areas, while delivering on a solid HD sci-fi shooter with lots of modes of play, smooth controls and good hit detection.

Final score – 8/10