Scientists at NASA announced on Wednesday the discovery of seven new planets that could contain Earth-like properties.
The planets, similar in size to Earth, were found in a nearby solar system referred to as TRAPPIST-1. The planets were discovered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and are what are being referred to as a record-breaking exoplanet discovery.
Three of the seven planets are located in what scientists believe to be a habitable zone that is believed to have rocky planets more likely to hold liquid water.
The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.
“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “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.”
To view a multimedia collection highlighting the discovery, visit the NASA website.