Following a press conference at their headquarters in Washington this week, NASA made an announcement of a discovery of seven planets with the approximate size and mass to Earth's all orbiting a nearby cold star, (FYI, nearby in NASA terns is about 235 trillion miles - 40 light years - from earth) which researchers are saying all of which could have water in liquid form.
"For me it's mind-blowing," exclaimed Nikole Lewis, a Project Scientist at NASA, in a video released by the space program. "The first time I saw what the system has in it, I just was like, 'You got to be kidding me!'" she laughs. "It's just I would've never predicted this. It's beyond anything I could've ever dreamt of."
Associate administrator of the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington explained, "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 have been called TRAPPIST-1, named after the acronym for a Chilean telescope, the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope and are so close to each other that if a person was standing on the surface of one of the planets, they would potentially be able even see geological features or weather patterns of neighbouring worlds that would appear bigger than the moon appears to us here on earth.
"This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations," said Sean Carey, manager of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California. "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."