How You - Yes, You - Can Help Find New Planets And More

Brunilde Fioravanti
Febbraio 27, 2017

Is the alien life as diversified as the one we have on Earth? After that, there's the planned Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which will bring additional capabilities to bear in the search for signs of life (and once again, generate revenue for industry partners including Orbital ATK, Harris, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and of course, Lockheed).

The star can be found within the constellation Aquarius, but as a red dwarf star, it is relatively dim in the portion of the light spectrum visible to human eyes.

With the discovery of some new planets that could harbor life that was announced this week, I'm planning my exodus from our lovely blue and green marble and hoping to move on to another before Earth's natural resources are depleted.

Maybe it's just as well this planet in the Trappist-1 solar system is out of humanity's reach. It has twelve times less mass.

MIT's Jennifer Burt expressed a similar line of thinking by saying, "The best way to advance the field and further our understanding of what these planets are made out of is to harness the abilities of a variety of precision radial velocity instruments and deploy them in concert". And, because they are not in our celestial neighborhood, they're called "exoplanets".

Looking from Earth, the astronomers could only track activity around the star at night.

Besides the dwarf suggestion, Twitter users suggested names from the television show "Friends" (Ross, Monica, Chandler, etc), names of "Star Wars" planets (Hoth, Tatooine, Endor, etc), and even the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, etc).

Scientists used the shadow the planets cast when they orbit in front of the star to tell many things about them. Additionally, even their masses are close to earth's and this leads to the natural conclusion that almost all of them are rocky, prompting the adjective "earth-like".

Yes, the possibility of finding liquid water on them is high. However, their environment is extremely different to the one we enjoy. The entire TRAPPIST system would fit inside the orbit of Mercury, and the planets are so close to each other, a person standing on one would be able to see features on some the way we see craters and mountains on our moon. As a result, it is always daytime in half of the planet while the other side is always dark.

The "new Earth" NASA that was expected to unveil this week turned out to be just more gazing at the stars.

Three of these planets are in the star's "habitable zone".

Has life, if any, formed on some of these alien planets? And never before has NASA found so many exoplanets so conveniently grouped all in one place for easy examination.

"The TRAPPIST-1 system is a compact analogue of the inner Solar System."

It is important to remember that scientists study the cosmos using the data they obtained from our neighbor worlds.

In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system.

But even if a mission to visit TRAPPIST-1 doesn't happen immediately, this week's exoplanet discovery still has implications for investors.

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