There’s a lot of uncharted territory up there in outer space. The infinite character of the universe means scientists will never be done exploring the fascinating components of galaxies and solar systems that populate it. Now, though, NASA has made an especially remarkable discovery of more than 5,000 planets lying outside of our solar system.
According to CBS News, none of the 5,005 planets NASA has discovered are inhabitable. That leaves Earth the only life-sustaining planet in the known universe. For now.
Further, most of the exoplanets lie in a small region outside of the Milky Way Galaxy. And by small, NASA means within thousands of light-years. As per the outlet, a light-year is the equivalent of 5.88 trillion miles. To give Outsiders a perspective of that distance, NASA reports the closest exoplanet to Earth is Proxima Centauri b, about four light-years away.
A NASA Twitter post provided greater insight on the 5,000 planets lying outside of our solar system.
There are planets everywhere we look: 5,000 and counting. Even with so many worlds discovered outside our solar system, Earth is still the only one we know of that’s just right for human life. Learn more: https://t.co/QI7ToqVhFl pic.twitter.com/GlNEklA2L1— NASA Universe (@NASAUniverse) March 21, 2022
“There are planets everywhere we look,” NASA said. “Even with so many worlds discovered outside of our solar system, Earth is still the only one we know of that’s just right for human life.”
Hit play, and the polka-dotted graphic above actually shows Earth and several companion planets’ orbits around the sun, at the center of the image. Simultaneously, our own solar system is surrounded by thousands of exoplanets, all of which travel in an orbit of their own. The colors indicate whether the exoplanets boast more lava-like qualities or are more similar to Earth.
NASA Discusses Likelihood of Sending Humans to Planets Outside Our Solar System
Despite that thousands of planets populate the region surrounding our own solar system, it’s unlikely humans will get to see any of these exoplanets up close. At least within the foreseeable future. Of current studies, NASA said, “Scientists are searching the galaxy for planets similar to Earth, and signs of life.”
Experts also stated, “As we see on Earth, life can adapt to conditions that human beings would consider very harsh.”
Examples include extreme temperature variations, radiation, salinity, acidity, and aridity. That said, it’s highly unlikely that species like ourselves exist out there. However, NASA does believe that life could exist on other planets that would appear rather alien to us.
So far, NASA confirmed it’s unlikely a human will ever go to an exoplanet. More than anything, it’s an immense distance to travel, with the closest planet more than 20 trillion miles away.
For now, scientists are diligently working to put humans on Mars. And the Red Planet is essentially our next-door neighbor, at a little more than 173 million miles away.
In the meantime, NASA scientists have discovered there are more planets than stars in the galaxy. They continue to use the Kepler Space Telescope to learn about exoplanets’ “weirdness, their variety, and all the fascinating things they can tell us about how planets form and develop.”