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In news:

NASA’s planet-hunting mission TESS has found its first potentially habitable exoplanet the size of Earth orbiting a star TOI 700about 100 light-years from Earth.

In brief:

  • It is a small, cool M-dwarf star in the Dorado constellation. It’s only about 40% of our sun’s mass and size, with half of the surface temperature.
  • The planet in goldilocks zone is known as TOI 700 d, one of three orbiting the star.
  • Astronomers confirmed their discovery using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope infrared capabilities with follow-up observations.
  • The planet receives about 86% of the energy that our sun supplies the Earth.
  • The planet is thought to be tidally locked, meaning one side is always in daylight.
  • Another first for TESS is its discovery of a planet orbiting two suns. The planet TOI 1338 b was found 1,300 light-years away in the Pictor constellation. It’s the only planet in the system with two stars. It’s between the sizes of Neptune and Saturn and experiences regular eclipses from its stars.

TESS: NASA’s planet hunting satellite

  • The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a MIT led NASA mission for a two-year survey that will discover exoplanets in orbit around bright stars. The mission is also funded by Google.
  • The TESS satellite uses an array of wide-field cameras to perform a survey of 85% of the sky.

Spitzer space Telescope

  • The Spitzer Space Telescope is the final mission in NASA’s Great Observatories Program – a family of four space-based observatories, each observing the Universe in a different kind of light.
  • It was launched in 2003.
  • The other missions in the program include the visible-light Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO).
  • Spitzer is designed to detect infrared radiation which allows astronomers to see cooler objects in space, like failed stars (brown dwarfs), extra-solar planets, giant molecular clouds, and organic molecules that may hold the secret to life on other planets.
  • Spitzer assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1.