This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Well, that was fast.
Yesterday NASA and the European Space Observatory (ESO) announced that they had discovered seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting the TRAPPIST-1 dwarf star outside our solar system. Google has wasted no time in whipping up a reaction. This morning’s Google Doodle is a playful, animated tribute to the new planets, which begs the question: Are these folks getting NASA briefings, or what?
“Earth to #TRAPPIST1…we read you loud and clear,” Google said in a tweet. “Thanks @NASA for this cosmic discovery!”
— Google Doodles (@GoogleDoodles) February 23, 2017
The colorful Doodle, created by artist Nate Swinehart, shows Earth looking through a telescope and spying some friendly new planet pals some 40 light-years away. After an initial look of shock, the Earth celebrates the discovery with a jubilant moon.
“This just in!” the Google Doodle blog states. “Turns out it wasn’t just dust on the telescope lens: NASA just announced the discovery of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the same star only 235 trillion miles away. In space terms, that practically makes us next-door neighbors!
“What exactly does this new solar system TRAPPIST-1 mean for our universe? Well, three of these newly discovered planets land smack-dab in the middle of what scientists call the habitable zone, or the distance from the star it orbits ‘where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.’ Though scientists have some serious studying to do before we can definitively say whether any of the new TRAPPIST-1 planets are habitable, the potential is very promising.
“So if three of these new TRAPPIST-1 planets land in the habitable zone, what about the other four?” the blog continues. “According to NASA, all seven planets could have liquid water, the most crucial ingredient for life — assuming the right atmospheric conditions.
“Unlike our solar system, the planets in TRAPPIST-1 are very close together. If we’re able to visit one of the TRAPPIST-1 planets one day, we could be able to watch each neighboring planet pass by on its orbital journey!”
Groovy. Of course, it’s all fun and games until alien lifeforms get involved…
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