Jet Propulsion Laboratory       

Trappist-1 Exoplanets


Astronomers are celebration a new discovery, a treasue trove of planets found. The big news is that around a very nearby, cold, small star, seven rocky Earth-sized planets, all of which could potentially have liquid water. Three of them orbit in the habitable zone around the star. The planetary system is called Trappist-1, after the Belgian operated telescope in Chile. Trappist found two planets in 2016. Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope, with the help of ground-based telescopes, discovered five more. Nasa's James Webb Telescope, Launching in 2018, could teach us even more about the Trappist-1 System. It will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, and oxygen of potential atmospheres.

Video Presentation

Jet Propulsion Lab's David S. Mittman and Space Telescope Science Institute's Robert Hawkins have co-authored a white paper that describes the project environment in which the Spitzer Integratesd Resource Planning and Scheduling System (SIRPASS) was developed and used in operations. SIRPASS is the last known adaptation of the Plan-IT II planning and sequencing tool. In the paper, they explain that because the Plan-IT II software architecture utilizes a highly object-oriented design, the core software can be easily extended for specific scheduling problem domains. Plan-IT II is developed in Allegro CL, a dynamic object-oriented development environment for ANSI Common Lisp from Franz, Inc.

From the White Paper - Scheduling Spitzer: The SIRPASS Story

SIRPASS is used by members of the Observatory Planning and Scheduling Team to plan, schedule and sequence the Telescope from data made available to them from the science and engineering community. Because of the volume of data that needs to be scheduled, SIRPASS offers a variety of automated assistants to aid in this task. The white paper describes the functional elements of the SIRPASS software system - emphasizing the role that automation plays in the system - and highlights lessons from the Spitzer Space Telescope operations experience.

To view the entire white paper, please visit

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