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NASA discovers seven planets similar to Earth

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This artist's concept allows us to imagine what it would be like to stand on the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, located in the TRAPPIST-1 system in the constellation Aquarius. (NASA / JPL-Caltech)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Wednesday that it had published a study that found the discovery of seven planets similar to Earth, around a star around 40 light years away (which equates to around 230 trillion miles). The planets that are similar to Earth were found in the “Habitable Zone” as termed by astronomers. That means that the planets are far enough away from the central star to have water and other signs of life on the planet.

Lauren-Woolsey
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Lauren Woolsey, originally from Chicago, is an Astronomy professor at Grand Rapids Community College and said she found the discovery to be “pretty exciting.” She is acquainted with multiple members of the team that announced the discovery and said, “they did a great job keeping their results secret for as long as they did … it’s a big deal so it’s pretty exciting.”

This chart shows, on the top row, artist conceptions of the seven planets of TRAPPIST-1 with their orbital periods, distances from their star, and radii and masses as compared to those of Earth. The bottom row shows data about Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. (NASA / JPL-Caltech)
This chart shows, on the top row, artist conceptions of the seven planets of TRAPPIST-1 with their orbital periods, distances from their star, and radii and masses as compared to those of Earth. The bottom row shows data about Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Courtesy Tribune News Service

There have been numerous questions about seeking out another planet that can sustain human life.

“This discovery definitely adds momentum to the discovery of Earth’s twin,” Woolsey said.

The distance is a downside of the discovery, while it is exciting to know that there are planets similar to Earth “our technology is too far away to really even consider going to this system,” Woolsey said.

The distance of 40 light years or 230 trillion miles obviously is a long distance to cover, Woolsey stated that “once we develop the technology to reach light speed, we may find planets around stars even closer to Earth.”