In a generic brick building on the northwestern edge of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center campus in Greenbelt, Maryland, thousands of computers packed in racks the size of vending machines hum in a deafening chorus of data crunching.

Day and night, they spit out 7 quadrillion calculations per second. These machines collectively are known as NASA’s Discover supercomputer and they are tasked with running sophisticated climate models to predict Earth’s future climate.

But now, they’re also sussing out something much farther away: whether any of the more than 4,000 curiously weird  beyond our solar system discovered in the past two decades could support life.



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