Welcome, TRAPPIST-1


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Welcome, TRAPPIST-1!

TRAPPIST-1: The Discovery

One week ago, astronomers from NASA and Europe made a groundbreaking discovery. This discovery will forever alter the way that we view space and time. 

Last Wednesday, NASA announced the discovery of seven Earth sized planets orbiting a dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1. The system of exoplanets is only 39.5 light years away. Given the vastness of the universe, this is a relatively short distance. 

The TRAPPIST-1 discovery is historical because it’s the first known instance of a system of seven Earth sized planets revolving around a single star other than our very own system. The Spitzer Space Telescope, which is currently over 235 million kilometers away from Earth, discovered the planets. Because of the orientation of the planets and their star, scientists are able to effectively observe the characteristics of TRAPPIST-1.

Why it’s so exciting?

Again, this discovery is absolutely groundbreaking because it is the first of its kind. According to scientist, what’s particularly exciting about this finding is the planets have the potential to form and hold water. Even more exciting, this finding means they have the potential to host life!

The star that the seven planets orbit is a red dwarf, meaning it’s ‘ultracool’, or under 2,550 kelvin. This makes it significantly cooler than our own sun, which is about 5,778 kelvin. Because of the stars cool nature and the placement of the planets, the possibility of the closer planets retaining liquid water is strong.

The TRAPPIST-1 discovery is raising a lot of speculation and excitement about the possibility of life outside Earth.

Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reported to the New York Times, “For the first time ever, we don’t have to speculate. We just have to wait and then make very careful observations and see what is in the atmospheres of the Trappist planets.”

Is there life outside of our planet? Only time will tell!

Now what?

This discovery opens the door to so many questions! Is there water? How could we tell if there is life? The possibilities are endless!

Currently, NASA reports that the geography of the planets is rocky. Scientists will continue to observe the exoplanets in order to deduce if liquid water actually exists on the planets.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope will begin to screen at least four of the planets in order to determine the atmospheric composition of the planets and learn if they consist of hydrogen.

In 2018, NASA’s James Webb Telescope will further assist scientists in exploring the makeup of these planets. This telescope will have technology that can enable scientists to determine properties of the planets including the presence of water, methane, and oxygen!

Dear TRAPPIST-1, Earth welcomes you!

How to Divide College Space

It’s that time again… we’re all heading back to school. It’s time to pack the car, buy your books, and make your way to campus. Once you get there you are flushed with a set of hellos, (and then one of goodbyes) and are left to decide how to organize and make sense of the pile of stuff sitting in the middle of the room.

For some, you not only have to figure out how to maneuver around bags and bags of clothes in one little room, but also learn how to share and utilize space with another person. It gets tough—a little bit of space for one person is hard enough, throw in another body (and car full of stuff) and you have to start getting creative.

So how do you do it?

My older brother once had a roommate who quite literally tried the whole “tape down the middle of the room” thing. It was, well, uncomfortable for him to say the least. What if the fridge is on one side, or worse the door? Splitting everything in half—straight down the middle—might not be the wisest, or easiest route to space utilization in your dorm.

It’s important to take note of communal space versus what’s already spoken for.

Set common ground rules and make everything a little smoother for you and your roommate, or roommates.

Dorm Room:

Straight down the middle might not work, but have clear boundaries of your space. Your beds, desks, closets or drawers are “roommate’s stuff” clutter free zones. Be considerate with your dirty socks and last night’s pizza box—don’t throw your shoes on their bed or your empty take out dishes on your roommate’s desk. That’s just not nice. For gray areas—like the middle of the room, couches, side tables, or windowsills, use common sense. If your mom wouldn’t like it lying out—for no rhyme or reason, then you probably shouldn’t leave it there. Chances are, your roommate won’t like it either. Don’t keep clutter on the floor, or stuff out just for the sake of it. If you have books you want to keep on the table, or something you want to keep on the window, just remember to picture your roommate doing the same and see if you would let it fly—if not, pack it in and put it somewhere else. Hey, that’s why the invented under the bed drawers, and closet shelves!


If you share a bathroom with the whole hall—be weary. You are sharing a communal space. You aren’t the only one who uses the stalls, sinks and showers. Think of having 20 siblings, maybe more. You owe it to them, as they do to you, to pick up after yourself and not make an obvious and obnoxious mess. Don’t leave hair in the shower, or toothpaste in the sink. Try not to get water everywhere and don’t just drop your trash. Think of how you would want your bathroom at home to look—it may not match 100% but you and your floor mates should strive to get as close as college cleanliness will allow.