Science

TRAPPIST-1 – Earth 0

Written by Frances Chassler

Normally I don’t really follow NASA’s findings. I read the first sentence; realise they’ve made a slightly bigger telescope and slowly lose interest. By the time any form of math appears I’m lost.

I just want to meet an alien.

Is that so much to ask?

Well, currently, yes, but maybe not for long. NASA recently announced that they had found a cluster of seven rocky planets orbiting a red dwarf star. Three of these planets are in the “Goldilocks zone” of the star, a place where the temperature allows liquid water to exist on a planet’s surface. The new solar system is called TRAPPIST-1.(Yes, it is meant to be in block capitals. I know, I find it oddly threatening too).

Even though alien dogs haven’t been confirmed yet people have already started speculating about what these planets are likely to look like, and it’s straight out of a filler Doctor Who episode, one where they flash a cool, glowy alien planet and hope that carries them through till the credits. In this case, it probably would, I mean, at least according to those pictures in the headline of that Guardian article. I didn’t read that one because it used the word “wavelengths” but the gist was that the planets are roughly two hundred times darker than earth and standing on one you could see the others in the sky.

In the next ten years NASA wants to the figure out what makes up the atmospheres of the planets, attempt to find liquid water and then just kinda look around for aliens?

In 2018 the James Webb space telescope will be launched and stationed 1 million miles from Earth. This will hopefully be able to shed more light on TRAPPIST-1, completely ruining all the artwork people have created, but, oh well. Another thing about these planets – that hasn’t really been focused on – is that star they orbit is around 500 million years old, which is very young when compared to our sun which is 4.6 billion years old. TRAPPIST-1 will likely be around for another trillion years whereas our solar system will die in about 5 billion.

So the way I see it, either these planets will be idyllic and life can or has developed there, meaning life will remain in the universe long after humans are gone, and it will all be poignant and great or… we can just try to move there once we wreak this planet.

Either or, I guess.

 

About the author

Frances Chassler

lol no

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