NASA reveals the existence of an exoplanetary system at 40 light years away from Earth

Artistic Illustration of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Source NASA.

On February 22nd, 2017, through a press release, NASA reveals a historic discovery concerning the existence of new exoplanetary system, called TRAPPIST-1, which hosts seven planets, comparable in size and mass with Earth; three of them being located in the habitable zone, the most likely to have liquid water. The super-cool dwarf star, located at about 40 light years away from Earth, is being named after the TRAPPIST mission – Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescopes.

”One light year means about nine trillion kilometers, i.e at one milliard add three more zeroes. At the moment we cannot perceive yet to cover such a distance with human capabilities. Perhaps, it is necessary a paradigm shift, a change of perception, which will allow us, hopefully in a near future, to see how we could access these stars”, says President of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA), Dr. Marius-Ioan Piso, in an interview accorded at Radio France International (RFI).

The observations began at the end of 2015, when a team of astronomers from University of Liege, Belgium, decoded the data acquired with the Liege telescope TRAPPIST-Sud, located in Chile. Further ongoing observations have implied more telescopes on-ground (TRAPPIST-Nord in Morocco, UK Infrared Telescope – UKIRT in Hawaii, William Herschel and Liverpool telescopes in La Palma, and the South African Astronomical Observatory telescope) and the NASA’s Spitzer space telescope.

In order to detail the atmospheric composition, or the structure of the rock of those planets, we may need perhaps a decade from now on”, says scientific researcher at the Institute of Space Science (ISS), Dr. Gina Isar, in an interview accorded at Antena 1 Observator TV.

However, NASA has made the reveal that seven planets revolve around TRAPPIST-1, through long and dedicated observations of better precision with the Spitzer space telescope. The remarkable results were recently published in Nature, which conclude that: “The TRAPPIST-1 system represents a unique opportunity to thoroughly characterize temperature Earth-like planets that are orbiting a much cooler and smaller star than the Sun” [Gillon, M. et al. Nature, 2017].

The TRAPPIST telescopes are part of a wider project called SPECULOOS – Search for habitable Planets EClipsing Ultra-cOOl Stars, which aims to detect more systems of this type, with four new telescopes in Chile.

Further observations will continue with new performant telescopes, both on ground and in space.

More information on the TRAPPIST telescopes can be found here.

More information on the SPECULOOS project can be found here.


INA – An interactive software tool for the statistical analysis of time series with application to space plasma turbulence

The diagram of INA and the schematic illustration of its main functionalities.

INA (Integrated Nonlinear Analysis) is an interactive software product designed to analyze satellite data with advanced nonlinear methods adapted to space plasma turbulence research. The software is developed in the framework of the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme project STORM (Solar system plasma Turbulence: Observations, inteRmittency and Multifractals) where ISS had a significant contribution. The main developers are Dr. Costel Munteanu (scientist at the Institute of Space Science – ISS), Dr. Marius Echim (senior scientist at ISS and also at the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BISA), Brussels) and Dr. Peter Kovacs (senior scientist at the Geological and Geophysical Institute of Hungary, Budapest).

INA is publicly available from the website of the project ( as an executable file to be run under Windows or Linux operating systems. The download page is available after registration by email to

The software is written in MATLAB (version 2015a), but it can also be used independently by installing a MATLAB compiler, which can be downloaded freely from here. Through an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), INA provides a complete statistical analysis of a time series and provides various methods: descriptive analysis, power spectral density (PSD), spectrogram analysis, analysis of probability distribution functions (PDF) of fluctuations, wavelet analysis, structure function analysis (SF), and multifractal analysis using the rank ordered multifractal analysis (ROMA).

INA is optimized for the analysis of magnetic field and plasma data provided by Venus Express, Cluster and Ulysses satellites, but has also adequate modules for reading and analyzing other data types.

For more information about INA, the software developers can be contacted directly by email: Dr. Marius Echim <marius.echim [at] oma [dot] be>, Dr. Costel Munteanu <costelm [at] spacescience [dot] ro>, Dr. Peter Kovacs <kovacs [dot] peter [at] mfgi [dot] hu>.

ISS’s researcher, IAA Newly Elected Member 2016

©ISS The award ceremony of IAA member, L. A. Popa together with IAA’s President and Vicepresident.

On the 25th September 2016, Dr. Lucia Aurelia Popa, senior researcher at the Institute of Space Science (ISS), became a full member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) at the Basic Sciences Section.

The award ceremony took place in frame of the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Dr. Lucia Popa is the Romanian representative of the Planck and Euclid ESA’s Missions and has been a Corresponding Member of IAA for three years, since 2013.


This post is also available in: Romanian

©ISS The IAA award of L. A. Popa

A new technique to gauge the distant Universe

Image credit:  ESA/XMM-Newton/G. Hasinger, N. Cappelluti, and the XMM-COSMOS collaboration
Image credit: ESA/XMM-Newton/G. Hasinger, N. Cappelluti, and the XMM-COSMOS collaboration

Scientists have developed a technique to use quasars – powerful sources driven by supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies – to study the Universe’s history and composition. To demonstrate the new method, based on a relation between a quasar’s luminosity at X-ray and ultraviolet wavelengths, they made extensive use of data from XMM-Newton X-ray observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA). This approach promises to become an important tool to constrain the properties of our Universe.

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The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has completed proton run for 2015 and prepares for lead collisions

One of the first lead-lead collisions at the LHC, recorded by the ALICE detector in November 2010. Note the large number of particle tracks. Image credit: ALICE Collaboration
One of the first lead-lead collisions at the LHC, recorded by the ALICE detector in November 2010. Note the large number of particle tracks. Image credit: ALICE Collaboration

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has successfully completed its planned proton run for 2015, delivering the equivalent of about 400 trillion (1012) proton-proton collisions to both the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) and CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiments. LHCb (Large Hadron Collider beauty) and ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) have also enjoyed successful data taking at lower collision rates.

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The “Lights of the World” international conference has started in Bucharest

Deschidere IYLRomania joins the international celebration of the International Year of Light 2015 and the 70th anniversary of UNESCO and is organising the “Lights of the World”conference from 30 October to 1 November at the Parliament Palace in Bucharest. The event will bring together personalities from Romania and from abroad, people with outstanding resultsin science, art and culture, UNESCO representatives, representatives of prestigious organisations and research centers from around the world, successful businessmen, but also tho interested public, including middle- and high-school students and teachers, researchers and university professors, who will engage in a creative and fruitful dialogue to promote the scientific universe.

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New study on knee problems

Image credit: European Space Agency (ESA)
Image credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

This MRI scan shows a knee joint with cartilage covering the articulating joint surfaces to help the bones slide smoothly.

Cartilage responds slowly to changes in joint loading because it does not have any blood vessels, lymphatic system or nerves to feed and grow tissue, so nutrients are absorbed slowly.

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