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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

7-Earths

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, February 22, 2017/Categories: natural history, space science, art and design, environment, adventure

 

                 Trappist-1 Planetary System (credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory/CalTech, NASA, other labs)

In what sounds more like the name for an amusement park than a gigantic discovery, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced the discovery of 7 Earths. The findings resulted from astronomers in the Europe and the US using one telescope (Trappist-1) operating high in the Chilean Andes and a second, the Spitzer space telescope, to observe all the planets orbiting a star 40 light-years distant. The seven terrestrial-sized worlds expands the list of exoplanets that now have their own catalog database for just keeping track of all the new planetary discoveries.

According to the announcement: the combine telescope observations revealed the first solar system containing seven Earth-sized planets in standard circular orbits around their star. The excitement of the discovery made by the Trappist-1 research team is obvious from their statements.

Three of the planets are located within the habitable zone of the star where a rocky planet would be most likely to have liquid water. One of the investigators said:

"This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life. Answering the question 'are we alone' is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal."

NASA created an artists intrepretation in virtual reality (VR) of what one of the planets might look like if your were standing on it. JPL has also published a series of posters, Visions of the Future, in their space vacation series.

Who ever said scientists and engineers never had good fun with their super-cool discoveries?

WHB

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