Last week, NASA unveiled to the world with the use of their Spitzer Space Telescope the
discovery of a new star system containing 7 previously undiscovered exoplanets, 3 of which
are within the habitable zone of a nearby star. This news sent the media into a frenzy of
cosmic proportions. The new system is called TRAPPIST-1 and is located about 40 light
years (235 Trillion Miles) away from earth which most likely means we’ll never reach these
planets during our lifetimes.
As a young student, this discovery creates a vision of hope for the future, there’s comfort in
knowing that if anything majorly catastrophic were to happen to the earth or to the human
race, we could potentially have somewhere safe to go. Judging from the current affairs of the
world, this ‘escape plan’ may be needed sooner rather than later. But in any case, I think it’s
always a good idea to have a backup plan that we can turn to if worst comes to worst.
I think that with the way we treat the world, we need to be looking in to other options, we’re
supposed to be stewards of the earth but in truth, the human race is ruining it and using up all
of its natural resources, from my studies I can see how the world used to be before the 1800s.
As a race, we’ve progressed but as keepers of the natural world we’ve regressed. The world
is worse off for having the human race, and although yes, it’s good for us to have a potential
planet the we could move to, do we really want to ruin another natural world?
Today it was announced that SpaceX has booked 2 passengers for a commercial trip around
the moon. Perhaps in the near future we’ll be going on holidays to this new system of planets,
although I’d imagine seat prices would be sky high. I think that before we consider having
back up plans or places to go in the worst-case scenario, we need to start small and
commercial trips to space seem like a good place to start.
This discovery also raises the question, are we really alone in the universe? If three of these
planets are situated within the habitable zone of the local star, there’s a good possibility that
they contain water and it’s entirely possible that one of these planets has developed its own
ecosystems and biomes inhabited by wildlife or even bacteria. The only way we’re going to
know for sure is by visiting these far-off worlds and with the way space travel is currently
advancing, that could be sooner rather than later.