NASA & # 39; s exoplanet spacecraft has discovered its first world-class world in the nearby solar system
- TESS saw its first planet on Earth in a system approximately 53 light-years away
- It follows an orbit of about 36 days, making it the longest period of the TESS planet
- Researchers say it can have a substantial atmosphere, although cooler than ours
A spacecraft launched last year on a mission to find new exoplanets has landed on a planet about the same size as ours.
NASA & # 39; s Transiting Exoplanets Survey Satellite (TESS) saw its first planet on Earth in a system that was about 53 light years away.
Scientists estimate the distant world as a radius of about 2.7 times that of the earth and can accommodate a substantial atmosphere.
Scroll down for video
The planet, called HD 21749b, is what is known as a sub-Neptune exoplanet, meaning it has less mass than Neptune and Uranus. It follows an orbit of about 36 days, making it the longest period of a planet that TESS has found, and has a mass of about 23 times that of the Earth
After the TESS signals suggested the presence of a planet in orbit around a star with about 80 percent of the solar mass, researchers were able to confirm the detection using the Planet Finder Spectrograph on the Magellan II telescope at Carnegie & # 39; s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.
The planet, called HD 21749b, is what is known as a sub-Neptune exoplanet, meaning it has less mass than Neptune and Uranus.
It follows an orbit of about 36 days, making it the longest period of a planet that TESS has found yet, and has a mass of about 23 times that of the Earth.
Because scientists expect that they will mainly find planets with a orbit time of less than 10 days, the team says this discovery is unusual.
& # 39; PFS is one of the few instruments in the southern hemisphere that can take this type of measurement & # 39 ;, said Johanna Teske of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
& # 39; So, it will be a very important part of further characterizing the planets found by the TESS mission. & # 39;
The researchers now hope to refine their measurements to better understand what the atmosphere could look like.
Unlike the Earth, the newly discovered planet is not a rocky planet and the atmosphere is cooler.
According to the team, the planet also has a & # 39; brother / sister & # 39 ;, which revolves around its host star around a period of about eight days.
& # 39; Measuring the exact mass and composition of such a small planet will be a challenge, but more important for comparing HD 21749c with the Earth, & # 39; said Wang.
& # 39; The Carnegie PFS team continues to collect data on this object for this purpose. & # 39;
Scientists say that this is probably the first of many planets on earth that TESS will encounter during its investigations.
The groundbreaking vessel can measure the properties of smaller exoplanets, which was never possible before.
& # 39; For stars that are very close and very bright, we expected to find a few dozen Earth-sized planets & # 39 ;, said MIT & # 39; s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space, lead author Diana Research.
& # 39; And here we are – this would be our first and it is a milestone for TESS. It determines the path for finding smaller planets around even smaller stars, and those planets may be habitable. & # 39;
WHAT IS THE TESS SPACE NAVIGATION?
The new & # 39; planet fighter & # 39; from NASA, Kepler's successor, is equipped with four cameras that allow 85 percent of the entire sky to be viewed because he searches exoplanets on a runway less than 300 light-years away.
By studying objects that are much clearer than the Kepler goals, it is hoped that TESS could find new clues about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.
The four wide-angle cameras view the sky in 26 segments, each of which will observe one by one.
In the first year of operation, it will map the 13 sectors that form the southern sky.
Then, the following year, it will search the northern sectors.
& # 39; We have learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky, and now TESS will open our eyes to the variety of planets around some of the nearest stars, & # 39; said Paul Hertz, Director of Astrophysics Division at NASA headquarters.
& # 39; TESS will create a larger network than ever before for enigmatic worlds whose features can be traced by NASA & # 39; s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and other missions. & # 39;
Tess is 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide and is shorter than most adults.
The observatory is 4 feet across (1.2 meters), excluding the solar wings, which are folded for launch, and weighs only 800 pounds (362 kilograms).
NASA says it is somewhere between the size of a refrigerator and a stacked washer and dryer.
Tess strives for a unique elongated orbit that passes on one side within 45,000 miles of the earth and as far away as the moon's orbit on the other.
It will take Tess two weeks to circle the earth.