The TRAPPIST-1 system is actually considered to be pretty close to Earth even if it seems like it is extremely far away. Image by Driver Photographer and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons.
Charter Oak High School

A home away from home?

A shocking new discovery has been made by NASA. Scientists have discovered seven additional planets using the Spitzer, an infrared telescope, but they are not just any planets.

They found these planets in a different solar system which they have named the TRAPPIST-1 system, and the best part is that they could be inhabitable. Its name, TRAPPIST, means the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope.

Although they are not 100 percent sure, NASA claims that the seven planets are likely to have liquid water, a key to life on a planet. Until now they have not found water on other planets.

These planets are estimated to be about 40 light years away, or 235 trillion miles, and the sun that these planets belong to is an “ultra-cool” dwarf, but the distance of the planets from the sun are significantly closer compared to the distance of the planets in our solar system to the sun.

It is an important discovery because people are concerned about how abundant our resources are on Earth. There are predictions that eventually we will not be able to live on Earth because we abuse our resources. Apparently another livable planet is vital, even if it does seem fictitious to many. Having another livable planet in the universe could be lifesaving in the future.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conductive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, to “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 towards the goal,” he said.

Not only can these planets be useful in the long run, but the discovery of these planets will help scientists in learning more about atmospheres. They will be able to collect data from these planets to study their atmospheres in comparison to ours.

Nikole Lewis, a co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., said, “The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmosphere around Earth-sized planets.”

Although the discovery of these planets does not directly affect everyone at the moment, it can impact our society in the future because of the potential information it offers to scientists.