NASA, fundraising and new frontiers
The seven planets of the Trappist-1 system have similar densities and temperatures to Earth. NASA made the announcement but it’s a European discovery.
- Friday, 28 April 2017
It has only been a few weeks since Donald Trump was elected, and Americans have already found other planets to inhabit! Jokes like this one have been doing the rounds since 22 February, when the North American Space Agency (NASA) announced the discovery of seven potentially inhabitable planets in a solar system called Trappist-1 located 40 light years away from Earth. Public opinion appears to have credited NASA with the discovery following its announcement, but the truth of the matter is slightly different. The group of astronomers originally responsible for the research was actually led by Michaël Gillon of the University of Belgium. In May 2016, Gillon found three of the seven planets using two 60 centimetre telescopes located in Chile and Morocco. It was only after this Belgian discovery that other observatories became involved, including the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and other observatories around the world. They confirmed Gillon’s findings, extended the investigation and identified the remaining planets.