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Gage Skidmore Space Engine (CC-BY) Remix by Jay Hathaway

NASA discovered some potentially habitable planets, and everyone made the same Trump joke

Will he build a space wall to keep the aliens out?


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 22, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 10:56 pm CDT

NASA researchers announced Wednesday that they’d discovered a previously unknown group of seven planets around a red dwarf sun, three of which have the proper conditions to harbor life. The thrilling discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system is huge news in the search for extraterrestrial life, and people on Twitter are definitely psyched up about it… because it’s a chance to make the same President Trump jokes over and over.

Trump, with his plans to build a Mexican border wall and ban travel from particular majority-Muslim countries, has been very vociferous about keeping out what some Americans might call “aliens.” These facts were not lost on any of the jokesters who wanted to comment on the TRAPPIST news.

There are literally hundreds of tweets making the same crack about how Trump wants to keep foreigners, probably even space foreigners, out of the U.S. And there are dozens more on the flip side of that: New habitable planets present the possibility of leaving Earth to escape Trump and the consequences of his presidency. 

OK, no they don’t. It’s a virtual certainty that Trump—and maybe all of us?—will be dead before we figure out how to get there. But the TRAPPIST-1 planets at least provide the possibility of joking about escape.

TRAPPIST-1 contains fantastic possibilities for novel scientific discovery. Novel jokes, though, seem to be altogether lacking.

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*First Published: Feb 22, 2017, 7:05 pm CST