The discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 star system has enabled humanity to set a target at where primitive or alien life could potentially exist. TRAPPIST 1 may not be the only star system capable of supporting life (many star systems and planets found by the Kepler telescope are also likely to be able to sustain life). It is a ultracool dwarf star that was discovered by Belgian astronomers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Astronomers at the observatory indicated that ultracool dwarf stars are the only star systems that we are currently able to look at due to the limitations of our technology. Perhaps with more investment and research this limitation can be overcome but at the moment this is all that is available for us in the search for extraterrestrial and primitive life. The launch of the James Web Telescope in 2019 will allow astronomers to detect atmospheric conditions on the planets in this star system. In February 2017, NASA announced that there are seven planets in this star system that are similar in size to Earth. The accompanying video that NASA revealed showed artist depictions of the various planets in the star system as well as statements by various scientists both in the United States and Belgium which generated a large buzz on video sharing websites such as YouTube. The general public also seems very interested in the findings as it gives some possibility that some of the science fiction they see in their everyday lives on television, video games and the internet may someday become a reality.
Some things in the atmosphere that the James Webb Telescope (which will serve as a great aid to the Spitzer and Kepler telescopes) will be able to detect is: water, methane and oxygen. Physicist Michio Kaku in an interview with a scientist discussed how each star system in the universe is uniquely different and how scientists have to this date not found a star system that is exactly like our solar system. The scientist that he interviews also says that in terms of aliens the reason why we haven’t heard from them is that for one they are too far away from us to make any kind of meaningful contact and secondly we are too primitive too be considered worth contacting in the first place. Furthermore the scientist indicates that we need to observe planets in space from space shuttles in order to be able to view a greater selection of planets as we are just limited to ultracool dwarf stars at the moment. In January 2018 it was announced that the TRAPPIST-1 system had two earthlike planets in it and it is likely that these two planets have water on them. In February 2018 it was announced that some of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 star system could have more water than Earth, specifically around 250 times the water on Earth according to the European Southern Observatory. TRAPPIST 1-D and TRAPPIST 1-E are most likely to be habitable among the group of seven planets. Scientists have relied on computers to model what TRAPPIST-1 planets may be like. Hopefully with the launch of the James Webb Telescope in 2019 more details can be learned about this interesting group of planets.