39 Light Years?! We’re Going to Need a Bigger Rocket…

Math in a blog Meme

Image Credit: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/gial_ackbar, makeameme.org

NASA’s recent discovery of the solar system TRAPPIST-1 sparks wonder, curiosity, and many questions! Here is what we know:

  • Within this system there are seven relatively earth sized planets
  • Three of theses planets are in the habitable zone and all of them could have liquid water
  • The TRAPPIST-1 system is different from our own, with the planets very close together, and a smaller sun
  • These new worlds pose the possibility of discovering new life, and maybe even the future of multi-planetary human habitation

So it seems like the perfect adventure, but at 39 light years away, how long would it take us to get there?

39 light years is only a difficult number to quantify due to its units. It’s a long way, but how long would it take to get there with our best spacecraft? Would we be able to see new life forms within a human lifetime? Science Galaxy’s team got curious, and decided to do some math!

Math equations that lead to 1 million years

1,055,091.38 years is a long time, and obviously much longer than would be practical for the human race. So while it is exciting to discover TRAPPIST-1, we are left with many questions until the rockets of the future can bring us there, such as:

Travel poster

Image Credit: NASA

  • How fast (mph) would a spacecraft need to be going to reach the TRAPPIST-1 system
    within 10 years? Or maybe 1 year?
  • How many pounds of dehydrated space food would you have to store in the ship to sustain you for a year?
  • What rocket technology is currently in the works? Is the TRAPPIST-1 system truly out of reach?
  • Could a wormhole help us get there?

In the meantime we will continue to dream, and imagine what it will be like when we get there.

For more information on the TRAPPIST-1 system visit the TRAPPIST-1 aggregate website, and the NASA Tumblr.

Also check out a great article, and a VR experience of what life would be like on the surface.



Author: Leo Borasio