Just a week ago, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scheduled a press conference to announce a ‘huge discovery.’ The people behind NASA managed to be tight-lipped about it a few days before the announcement which caused speculations about what it might be.
It turned out, the discovery was indeed ‘HUGE’ because it is the culmination of Earth’s decades-long space exploration. NASA finally found, not just one, but seven earth-like exoplanets orbiting a star called TRAPPIST-1, closely resembling our own sun.
Three of these planets in the particular solar system are believed to have liquid water on their rocky surfaces because the temperature is not too hot or cold. NASA claimed that liquid water may potentially exist on any of the seven, but the odds are best on those three.
According to Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, “The discovery gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when.”
This is the first time scientists have found so many earth-sized planets in one solar system. The said group of planets is roughly 40 light years away; the closest habitable planets were ever discovered. No other star system has even been found to contain so many possible life planets of the kind to be necessary to contain aliens.
An artist’s impression of what the exoplanets’ surface may look likes.
The James Webb Space Telescope which is set to launch in 2018 will give astronomers the ability to measure the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres. If the said planets contain gases like ozone, oxygen, or methane, there is a high probability that life could exist there. NASA believes that they would gather more data about these planets in a few years.