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Discovery of new planets is taking us closer to the answer we’re all waiting for

NASA finds 7 new Earth sized exoplanets

When we think of space, we make see it as the final frontier, we may think of the starship enterprise and we may just want to go to infinity and beyond. The only difference now, is that we get the chance to.

NASA has just announced the discovery of 7 new Earth sized exoplanets (planets orbiting a star outside our solar system) circling around our new favourite star TRAPPIST-1. This is “record-breaking” for many reasons, not the least of which is that never before have this many planets been found circling the same star. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, says that “the discovery gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when.”

Of course, the big question on everybody’s mind is – are we alone in the universe? Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA believes we are one step closer to answering it: “We live in a time when humanity can answer this question scientifically. And the first sign of answering this question is looking at exoplanets.”

These new planets can be found 39 lightyears away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. TRAPPIST- 1 is a small “ultra cool” dwarf star. Like they say, big things do come in small packages – TRAPPIST -1 is one-tenth of the size of Earth’s sun and one-thousandth as bright. All the planets circle TRAPPIST very closely because of the sun’s low mass, so a view from one planet would see the others as we see our moon- prime planet real-estate. All 7 planets are believed to be roughly the same size as our little blue planet. Three of these planets might possibly be able to sustain water – not too hot, not too cold, just right- giving promising information about whether the planets have or could sustain life. Sara Seagar, an exoplanet expert, said this of the announcement: “With this discovery we’ve made a giant, accelerated leap forward in our search for habitable worlds and life on other worlds potentially”

With this news, I think it is time to seek out new life and new civilisations, maybe even boldly go where no man has gone before.

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