This is why Sasselov is so excited and shared that enthusiasm with his audience. Even the most conservative back-of-envelope guess at this point is that millions of Earths clones are out there.
Sure there are innumerable more observations to make, papers to publish, and someday a full-blown NASA press conference.
"It will take more years of hard work to get to our goal, but we can do it," Sasselov wrote in an online mea culpa following the media feeding frenzy. "So no new news here - but more to come later in the year!" he told one news reporter.
Let's face it, the cat's out of the bag. And in the age of the Internet, where the public has an appetite for immediate news, waiting for fully vetted science papers to come out seems glacial.
Yes, this is antithetical to the very process of science. Look at the embarrassment when some physicists were in a horse race to announce cold fusion in 1989.
In all sciences the roadway to Ultimate Truth is littered with results that were breathlessly reported, only to be later proven wrong. This is particularly true in the search for exoplanets. Between 1963 and 2005 (before the discovery of the first true planet orbiting a normal star) there were at least 15 reported discoveries of exoplanets that were later retracted.
Depending on the stature of the scientist making the mistake, he or she can be skewered by their colleagues, or at the very least be chastised. False starts have demolished the careers of some scientists.
The simple fact is that science is messy. In astronomy great discoveries are often on the fringe of what a telescope can detect, as is the case with Kepler.
It is misguided to assert, as some science and journalism critics do, that a result cannot be publicized until it is absolutely correct. The truth is that science progresses through infinite mid-course corrections. So it should come as no surprise when the results are later modified or even retracted.
A wrong result can still serve as a catalyst for engaging the public and even other scientists in thinking creatively about a potential new "discovery space."
In the end the Sasselov news SNAFU was a positive event in that everyday people were simply reminded of the awesome idea the other Earths are likely out there.
"Are we there yet?" Well, almost.