(KMSP) - Since the beginning of recorded history, man has asked the question "Is there other life in the universe?"
According to NASA, we may now be one step closer to finding out the answer.
"It's very exciting. We finally have 3 planets that could sustain liquid water and that's exciting for exobiology and the search for life in the universe," University of Minnesota astronomy professor Dr. Chick Woodward said.
Woodward says NASA has discovered seven rocky, Earth-like planets orbiting a red, ultra cool dwarf star named Trappist-1, 235 trillion miles away.
Woodward says three of the planets are the perfect temperature to have liquid water, meaning they could support life, but mankind won't be booking a trip there anytime soon.
"It's about 40 light years away so it would take a considerable amount of time taking the Metro Transit bus to get there. We don't have propulsion technology to fly at the speed of light yet so it’s in our own backyard, but tantalizingly over the fence," Woodward said.
Woodward also says standing on one of the Seven Wonders of Trappist-1, the sun would be six times bigger than here on Earth and any plant life would be red or black because that's where its energy would come from.
"You could see the other planets whizzing by quite rapidly. It would be some interesting celestial fireworks to see with your picnic blanket," Woodward said.
A poster released by NASA shows what a trip to Trappist-1 may look like light years in the future.
But for now, Woodward says our search for life in outer space should also cause us to look inward here at home.
"How common is life in the universe? Right now we don't have a good definition of life even on our own planet so there's a lot of work to do," Woodward said.
Woodward says it could take a decade for researchers to find out whether there are signs on life near Trappist-1.
In the meantime, astronomers at the U of M hope to make similar discoveries when they use the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory in Arizona to look at other "M-stars" like Trappist-1 in the future.