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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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7 Earths Discovered

7 Earths Discovered

7-Planet Trappist-1 planetary System (credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory/CalTech, NASA, other labs)

In what sounds more like an amusement park name than a space discovery, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California announced the discovery of multiple Earths. The findings resulted from work by researchers in Europe and the US using a telescope (Trappist-1) positioned high in the Chilean Andes and another, the Spitzer space telescope, to observe seven planets orbiting a star 40 light-years distant. The terrestrial-sized worlds expands the list of exoplanets on their own exoplanet database for tracking of such discoveries.

According to the announcement, the combined telescope observations revealed the first solar system containing Earth-sized planets in standard circular orbits around their star. The excitement of the discovery made by the JPL research team is obvious from their statements.

Three of the planets are located within the habitable zone of the star where a rocky planet would be most likely to have liquid water. One of the investigators said:

"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."

NASA created an artists interpretation in virtual reality (VR) of what one of the planets might look like if your were standing on it. JPL has even published a series of posters, Visions of the Future, in a series of space vacation destinations. Who said scientists never had fun with their discoveries? WHB

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