The universe wouldn’t know about a newly-discovered solar system full of Earthlike planets, all of which could have liquid water, without the ingenuity and skill of Machinists Union members.

Astronomers announced Wednesday that a telescope orbiting Earth had detected seven warm, rocky planets orbiting a star just 39 light-years away. It’s the most terrestrial planets orbiting a single star that scientists have ever found, and it could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.

“It’s beyond anything I could’ve ever dreamt of,” said Nikole Lewis, an astronomer on the research team that found TRAPPIST-1, the ultra-dwarf star at the new solar system’s center.

The telescope that made the landmark discovery, the Spitzer Space Telescope, was carried into orbit on a space vehicle built by District 725 members in Sunnyvale, CA. The Delta rocket it was launched on was built by IAM Local 44 members in Decatur, AL. IAM Local 610 members at the NASA Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL launched it in August 2003.

“IAM members have once again demonstrated their vital importance to our space program and to the scientific community,” said IAM International President Bob Martinez. “We are expanding our knowledge of our universe every day, and I’m proud that the men and women who make it all possible are a part of our IAM family.”

Learn more about this exciting discovery from NASA.

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