WHAT IT IS
- February 22, 2017: NASA announced the discovery of the star Trappist-1 that has at least 7 Earth-like planets in its orbit.
- Trappist-1 is a red dwarf star located within the constellation Aquarius.
- It is located approximately 39 light years away from Earth (close by galaxy standards- the Milky Way spans 100,000 light years).
- The planets have sizes and masses similar to that of Earth and Venus, and it is possible that these planets could be hospitable to life.
WHY IT MATTERS
Are we truly alone in this galaxy? Earth is currently the only known planet that supports life, so the discovery of the Trappist-1 system could bring us one-step closer to confirming if other forms of life exist in our galaxy. Scientists are examining the chemical fingerprint of each of the planets to determine if they are similar to Earth’s atmosphere, which would indicate the possibility of life. Further study of the Trappist-1 system could unearth new scientific discoveries and advance human knowledge of the galaxy and the conditions that allow life to flourish. Life elsewhere could soon turn from dream to reality.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- Scientists are meticulously studying the Trappist-1 system through advanced telescopes and believe that within a decade we will know if it contains life
- Even if life does not currently exist on the planets, there is still a chance that it will eventually evolve
- Trappist-1 is 500 million years old (while our sun, comparatively, is 4.5 billion years old) and as a red dwarf, likely has another one thousand billion years left for life to develop
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- If life forms to exist, will they resemble human life or something completely different?
- Will countries unite in the effort to uncover new scientific discoveries?
- Will we ever have the technology possible to travel to another galaxy?