NASA Harps on TRAPPIST-1, Seeks 74 Days More

NASA is not going to relent on what it calls the biggest discovery of the year by Kepler mission, the recently discovered ultra-cool dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, with seven exoplanets habitable a-la Earth. This is the second time NASA said it revealed more after its much-publicised February 22 revelation that was a routine update.

What NASA astronomers said was that TRAPPIST-1 hosts a total of seven planets that are expected to allow astronomers to refine the previous measurements of six planets already announced, pin down the orbital period and mass of the seventh and farthest planet, TRAPPIST-1h, and learn more about the magnetic activity of the host star.

"Scientists and enthusiasts around the world are invested in learning everything they can about these Earth-size worlds," said Geert Barentsen of NASA’s Ames Research Centre in California. "Providing the K2 raw data as quickly as possible was a priority to give investigators an early look so they could best define their follow-up research plans. We’re thrilled that this will also allow the public to witness the process of discovery," he said.

With the raw, uncalibrated data, astronomers now seek more time to use telescopes on the Earth to further investigate TRAPPIST-1, and by May this year, the routine processing of the data will be completed and the fully calibrated data will be made public, he noted, hinting at about 74 days of monitoring.

This is the longest and continuous set of observations of TRAPPIST-1 to further study the gravitational interaction between the seven planets, besides searching or scanning for similar exoplanets that may remain undiscovered in the system.

(Photo: NASA)

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