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NASA ANNOUNCES NEW EXOPLANET DISCOVERIES

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration held a press conference today announcing newly discovered Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star in the Trappist-1 system.

Three of the seven Earth-sized planets are found within the star’s habitable zone, meaning liquid water, and even more amazingly, life, could exist on the planets’ surfaces.

We won’t be taking any trips there anytime soon, unfortunately. While the star system is located nearby in a cosmological sense, it’s still around 40 light years away.

Artist's rendering of Trappist-1f, an Earth-sized planet that could support life.
Artist’s rendering of Trappist-1f, an Earth-sized planet that could support life.

That means even at the speed of light, the trip takes 40 Earth years.

The planets were observed with the Spitzer Space Telescope, an infrared telescope launched in 2003. Spitzer was never intended to study exoplanets, but it was re-engineered from Earth by NASA to detect dips in light as the planets pass in front of the star. The dip in light level provides insight into the planets’ approximate sizes

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