This is today's big NASA announcement. The space agency's Spitzer Space Telescope discovered seven rocky Earth-sized planets around Trappist-1, a dwarf star at about 40 light years from Earth. Three of the seven planets are located in the habitable zone of the planet and all seven planets could have liquid water. It's the most exciting exoplanet find to date.
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.”