NASA New Planets Discovery

Maddie Urbano, Staff Writer

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On February 22, 2017, NASA announced the discovery of seven new earth-sized planets. They are located 4o light years away, and orbit around a dwarf star known as TRAPPIST 1. This star is considered an “ultracool dwarf,” meaning that it is merely half of the temperature of a normal star, and 1/10 the mass of the sun. These seven planets are so close together that they share a space that is five times smaller than the distance from mercury to the sun. They are also similar to the moon in the sense that they are tidally locked, making one side of the planet day, and the other night. However, the aspect that scientists find most important is the fact that three of the seven newly discovered planets are habitable.
Researchers know of thousands of planets beyond our solar system, called “exoplanets,” but most are not suitable for life. Despite their rocky surfaces, the temperature on the newly uncovered planets is reasonable and they can hold liquid water. This is because of the star they surround, and how unusual it is. The search for planets fit for life is ongoing, but this discovery has allowed for a large leap forward. Regarding this, Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters said, “The discovery give us a hint that finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when.”

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