The James Webb Telescope is the most expensive stargazing instrument ever built. The scientists who evaluate his data are not concerned with escaping into space. But about a deeply human power: curiosity about what is out there.

When Sara Seager thinks of Trappist-1e, she’s glad she lives on planet Earth. Trappist-1e is one of thousands of planets discovered in our Milky Way in recent years, a rocky outcrop in the constellation Aquarius, very distant. The astrophysicist Seager will never be able to visit him: Even with the fastest spacecraft, a trip would take many human lives. And yet Trappist-1e is their great hope.