NASA launched its much-anticipated Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or simply TESS in April this year in order to replace the dying Kepler K2 spacecraft and to examine and find out more exoplanets than the current count of more than 2,000 exoplanets found by Kepler K2 and other similar missions. Just a few months in-mission, the TESS has already found a comet and an array of asteroids but that’s not all. It has found two exoplanets that were recently confirmed by the researchers.
According to the statement released by NASA and the team of MIT astrophysicist, there are a lot of planets out their shimmering in the night sky waiting to be found. It is only a matter of time till TESS finds it all and indeed, it has begun its through the cosmos scanning 400 times more sky than the Kepler K2 or any other mission ever could examine.
About the discovery, TESS found two exoplanets revolving around their host star. The larger one is called Pi Mensae C and it is located at around 60 light-years away. It is located in the constellation of Mensa and revolves around its host star ever 6.3 days thanks to its distance from it as well as its ‘super-earth’ status since it is double the size of Earth and mass manifold greater than our planet. Another star discovered by the TESS was named as LHS 3844 which is a hot-earth located nearly 49 light-years away. It revolves around its host star every 11 hours as confirmed by the team on Thursday.
Further, the extreme size and mass of the Pi Mensae C, as well as the composition, could mean that it is not a habitable planet since researchers believe that it could be a water world with the atmosphere bearing of water vapor. On the other hand, the LHS 3844 b is a hot-earth planet which means it is hotter than Earth and probably not a good choice for humans and thus, inhabitable.
The TESS is a massive $337 million dollars mission spanning over two years. It is equipped with sophisticated instruments that would enable it to find exoplanets, host stars, as well as keep an eye on its progress and other metrics. It uses the method of transit photometry which is something its predecessor Kepler K2 mission used for over 20 years while scanning more than 400 times the sky coverage compared to it. TESS will continually find and examine exoplanets in the future towards finding habitual candidates where life could evolve.
Kepler was able to find more than 3,700 exoplanets and it is currently on its next observational campaign or until it runs out of fuel which will not take much longer since the reports of its fuel tank reaching near empty were showcased a few weeks earlier after which, it transmitted data from its last observational campaign last month. TESS has been designed to replace Kepler K2 thanks to its four special cameras as well as the use of sophisticated transmit photometry detection mode that allows it to detect dips and register the potential existence of exoplanets passing in front of host stars.