Published On: Thu, Feb 23rd, 2017

NASA Made an Astonishing Discovery: 7 Earth-Like Exo-Planets

In remarkable news this week, NASA announced that they have discovered seven Earth-sized temperate planets orbiting a nearby star, only 40 light years from our own solar system. According to mass estimates, they are rocky planets, not gaseous like Jupiter or Saturn, and are within the habitation zone of the star, meaning they could hold water on the surface and have the possibility to support life if the conditions are right.

The initial climate studies have concluded that the closest three planets A, B, and C are most likely too close to have liquid water on the surface, while the furthest planet, H, is too far away. However, planets E, F, and G are in the optimal zone for liquid water potential. While it is far too soon to become optimistic about the chances to find life, this does open a great door for scientists to begin research on Earth-like planets that are relatively close to home.

Don’t expect to hear about a rover mission to these planets anytime soon, however. While 40 light years doesn’t sound very far, it is a vast distance. It would take us millions of years for anything we send to even reach the edges of the solar system with our current technology. A light year may sound miniscule, yet is an incredible distance. It is calculated as the distance in which light will travel in a vacuum after one years’ time. Light moves at 299,792,458 meters per second (186,000 miles per second second). Making one light year 9.4607 × 1012 km (nearly 6 trillion miles). Multiply that by forty, and you begin to see the problem.

It is likely that all research rendered by scientists for years to come will have to be done via simulation, telescopes, and prediction (fancy guess work). Despite that, there is still much we can currently learn from this solar system. From how solar systems aside from our own function, to the atmosphere and composition of these seven close but distant Earth-like planets. Only time will tell what we may learn, what secrets this new discovery will hold. But one thing is certain, for the scientists at NASA, they have no plans to stop looking anytime soon.

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