Search icon


22nd Feb 2017

NASA discover seven Earth-sized planets and three of them might contain water

The discovery was announced this evening

Paul Moore

NASA held a press conference this evening and we now know that their Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star.

They’ve also stated that three of these planets are “firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.”

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington says that: “This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life. Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

The system of planets is located 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth and they lie in the Aquarius constellation.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1 and based on the densities of all seven planets, they’re likely to be rocky.

Regarding the likelihood that it’s possible to sustain water on these seven planets, NASA stated that “In contrast to our sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star – classified as an ultra-cool dwarf – is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system.”

Sean Carey, manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California says: “This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations.Spitzer will follow up in the fall to further refine our understanding of these planets so that the James Webb Space Telescope can follow up. More observations of the system are sure to reveal more secrets.”

Exciting times.