The exciting news in popular astronomy this week was the discovery of a new solar system within about 40 light years that contains potentially seven Earth sized planets. Even though they seem to be much closer to their sun than we are, the sun itself is much cooler so there is a possibility that water could be found on one or more of them.

This makes the fall 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope even more exciting because, as Miles O’Brien points out in the video, “It will have spectroscopy equipment on it, which means it will be able to analyze the atmosphere of these planets and identify some of the key building blocks of life, whether it’s oxygen, or hydrogen, or methane or carbon, and make some determination as to whether it is even more likely that there is potential life on some of these planets.”

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