You don’t have to wait to explore the seven Earth-sized exoplanets recently discovered in the TRAPPIST-1 system. You can do it right now.
Hours after the announcement on Wednesday, Vladimir Romanyuk released a downloadable pack for his universe simulator Space Engine, which contains all seven planets. All you have to do is download Space Engine, then the TRAPPIST-1 pack, then add the file to the addons/ folder. Once you’ve done that you can load up the simulator and get up close with each of the seven planets.
It should be noted that no one yet knows what the surface of these planets truly look like. NASA drew up an illustration with some scientific predictions but that’s all we have right now. As Space Engine is a simulator, it has also authored its own vision of these planets, based on their bulk density.
Space Engine renders the first planets as warm terras while the rest are cool deserts. A couple have oceans, many of them have huge cyclones rampaging across their rocky surfaces, but what’s missing are any signs of life.
Three of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system are in the habitable zone, which means they could support life. Let’s hope Space Engine is off the mark there. In fact, its simulation of these planets is way off at the moment, to the point that Romanyuk is considering some manual tweaks. They would include increasing the temperature of the star and correcting the planet orientation in relation to the sun so they are no longer tidally locked.
If you’re unable to visit the planets for yourself in Space Engine then you can check out Imgur user DRMirage809’s photo gallery of their own trip to TRAPPIST-1. YouTuber Anton Petrov also gives a tour in his video, however, he hasn’t installed the new planet pack, so it only includes the three planets that were discovered previously and not the four new ones.