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FEATURING JIM INGALLS – NASA announced a bombshell discovery on Wednesday that captured the imagination of many Americans. Seven planets have been found orbiting a nearby star called Trappist-1.

The “ultra cool dwarf” star is only about 40 light years away from earth. What is most interesting is that its planets are earth-like in size and temperature, which means at least one or more of them have the potential to host water, and therefore life.

The discovery has been shared with great optimism on social media, with themes of escaping earth’s trials and tribulations. In the era of Donald Trump where many people are pessimistic about our planet’s future, the idea of habitable planets elsewhere has sparked a small sense of joy.

The findings were published in the journal Nature with 30 astronomers listed as authors. Tenth on the list is Jim Ingalls. He’s a staff scientist at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology. Spitzer is the name of the infra-red satellite telescope that gathered the data on Trappist-1. Jim, who just happens to be my husband, now joins me to discuss this story.

Jim Ingalls, staff scientist at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology.

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