Home / Science / NASA's Planet-hunting Satellite TESS Locates Its First Exoplanet

NASA's Planet-hunting Satellite TESS Locates Its First Exoplanet

NASA's planet-hunting satellite, TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), which lasts last year to search for exoplanets. The satellite will observe 400,000 stars across the sky and select a target from the new TESS Habitable Zone Star Catalog.

The catalog is a list of 1,822 stars within TESS's range which have earth-sized planets in orbit with their planets receiving a similar amount we are from our Sun.

"Life could exist in all sorts of worlds, but the child knows we can support life is our own, so it makes sense to look first for earth-like planets, "lead author Lisa Kaltenegger, professor of astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of Cornell's Carl Sagan Institute, said in a statement. "This catalog is important for TESS because anyone working with the data wants to know which stars we can find the closest Earth analogs."

And TESS's search is already paying off. This week, astronomers analyzing data from TESS have discovered a Saturn-sized planet.

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A "hot Saturn" passes in front of its host star in this illustration. Astronomers who study stars used to "starquakes" to characterize the star. Illustration by Gabriel Perez Diaz, Institute of Astrofísica de Canarias

TESS's first planetary discovery is the "hot Saturn" planet TOI 197.01. Saturn but located close to its star, so it has a very high temperature. In fact, this planet is just close to its full stop on orbit in just 14 days.

"This is the first bucketful of water from the TESS," Steve Kawaler, a professor of physics and astronomy at Iowa State University, said in a statement.

TESS. "The thing that's exciting is that TESS is the only game in town for a while and the data are so good that we're planning to try to do science," Kawaler said. "Maybe we can look at the very faint stars – the white dwarfs – that are my first love and represent the future of our sun and solar system."

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