NASA & TRAPPIST-1: A Treasure Trove of Planets Found


♪ A treasure trove
of planets found Astronomers are celebrating
a new discovery. Sean Carey, Manager, Spitzer
Science Center, Caltech IPAC The big news is that
around a very nearby cold, small star we
found seven rocky, Earth-sized planets, all of
which could potentially have liquid water. Three of them orbit in
the habitable zone around the star. And liquid water could exist on
any of the seven planets given the right conditions. Nikole Lewis, James Webb
Telescope Project Scientist, Space Telescope Science
Institute For me it’s mind-blowing. The first time I saw what
the system had in it, I was just like, “You got to be
kidding me!” Then I looked at
the data myself. I’m like, “Yup,
there they all are.” It’s just, I would have
never predicted this. It’s beyond, you know, anything
I could’ve ever dreamt of. The planetary system
is called TRAPPIST-1 after the Belgian-operated
telescope in Chile. TRAPPIST found two
planets in 2016. NASA’s Spitzer Space
Telescope, with the help of ground-based telescopes,
discovered five more. Michael Gillon, Principal
Investigator, TRAPPIST, University of Liege, Belgium I felt super-excited. Amazed by the very existence
of this system… was kind of… of
yeah… of shock. The TRAPPIST-1 planets are
extremely close to one another. From a planet’s surface you could easily see other
TRAPPIST-1 planets in the sky. If you were standing on
one of these planets you’d actually see a lot of them sort of in the sky whipping by on these very short
orbital periods. NASA’s James Webb Telescope,
launching in 2018, could teach us even more
about the TRAPPIST-1 system. It will be able to detect
the chemical fingerprints of water, methane and oxygen of
potential atmospheres, key ingredients in
assessing habitability. It is an excellent,
fantastic discovery. All images of planets are
artist’s conceptions. Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of
Technology

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