NASA’s Brand-New Alien Planet Hunter Spots Two Earth-Like Alien Worlds

According to NASA, during this period TESS is expected to monitor more than half a million stars

TESS, NASA’s brand-new planet hunter has been in function for around two months, and it has already provided experts with massive data.

The exoplanet-hunting telescope has already discovered candidates for two new worlds, and scientists say it is just the beginning.

(NASA/MIT/TESS)
TESS’s first observation of the sky. Image Credit: NASA/MIT/TESS

TESS is scheduled to observe the sky for a two year period during which it is expected to survey as much as eighty-five percent of the sky, divided by scientists into twenty-six sectors. According to NASA, during this period TESS is expected to monitor more than half a million stars.

Called Pi Mensae C, the planet orbits a bright yellow dwarf star called Pi Mensae. Its located around 60 light years from Earth.  The second planet is LHS 3844 b, and it orbits a red dwarf that is located less than 49 light years from our solar system.

NASA's TESS
Tess is expected to search for exoplanets in more than half a million stars. Image Credit: NASA Goddard.

The first test observations done by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) were on July 25, 2018. It officially began its science observations soon after on August 7.

The two alien worlds are still candidates, but if they are verified by the final review process they will become TESS’s first two discoveries.

Scientists say that the planets seem to be Earth-like and rocky.

However, neither of them seems to be habitable as per our standards since both planets orbit their host star really close, meaning that there are little chances for liquid water to exist on their surface.

Pi Mensae C, the first candidate for a planet announced is believed to be a super-Earth, twice the size of our planet. It orbits its parent star every 6.27 days.

The other candidate planet is classified as a hot Earth. It is around 1.3 times the size of Earth and orbits its parent star every 11 hours.

Since both worlds are located so close to their suns, scientists believed the planets are blasted with solar radiation which means that its unlikely the worlds can retain an atmosphere.

“The discovery of a terrestrial planet around a nearby M dwarf during the first TESS observing sector suggests that the prospects for future discoveries are bright,” the researchers wrote in the LHS 3844 b paper.

“It is worth remembering that 90 percent of the sky has not yet been surveyed by either TESS or Kepler.”

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