Researchers working with the agency revealed that it had found its "holy grail": a solar system filled with seven Earth-like planets, many of which might support life. And it's just a mere 40 lightyears away.
To celebrate the discovery – perhaps its biggest exoplanet find ever – the agency has made stunning a poster advertising life on the planet. We're not going to be able to get there anytime soon – the fastest spacecraft humanity has made would take 200,000 years to get there – but it offers a stunning glimpse of what it might be like to live there, or what life might be like for any aliens that already do.
The agency also provided the kind of description that might be offered to any astronauts who head to the travel agents to book a trip to the new planet.
"Some 40 light-years from Earth, a planet called TRAPPIST-1e offers a heart-stopping view: brilliant objects in a red sky, looming like larger and smaller versions of our own moon. But these are no moons. They are other Earth-sized planets in a spectacular planetary system outside our own. These seven rocky worlds huddle around their small, dim, red star, like a family around a campfire.
"Any of them could harbor liquid water, but the planet shown here, fourth from the TRAPPIST-1 star, is in the habitable zone, the area around the star where liquid water is most likely to be detected. This system was revealed by the TRansiting Planets and PlanetIsmals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The planets are also excellent targets for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Take a planet-hopping excursion through the TRAPPIST-1 system."
As well as its retro travel posters, Nasa released a range of more abstracted, artistic depictions inspired by the new solar system and drawn by Amanda J Smith.
TRAPPIST-1e is the fifth planet along in the solar system, which includes at least seven planets in all.
It's far from the first planet to be commemorated with its own travel poster. Nasa has commissioned a range of retro-style posters that give a glimpse of what life might be like if we ever manage to move home onto another world.
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