NASA just dropped an astonishingly elaborate map of more than 4,000 exoplanets known to exist outside our Solar System, which takes the form of a video that shows how many exoplanets we’ve discovered each year since 1991.
Exoplanets are not only interesting to us because they orbit a different star, but also because they have the potential to harbor life.
It’s an impressive visualization of the exponential rate at which we’re discovering outside worlds many light-years away. That’s in part thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope, NASA’s now-retired orbital imaging craft that searched the far reaches of deep space for exoplanets since it launched in 2009.
While Kepler had to be retired last year, other satellites and space telescopes have picked up where it left off, including NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which recently spotted its smallest exoplanet ever.
And future space telescopes are also in the planning stages, such as the European Characterising Exoplanets Satellite, scheduled to launch later this year.
Unfortunately, NASA’s latest planned space telescope, the James Webb Telescope, has been facing a lot of delays, while getting heat from Congress about NASA drastically going over budget for the project.
READ MORE: NASA drops insane map of 4,000 planets outside our solar system [CNET]
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