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NASA’s TESS finds 66 new exoplanets, 2,100 more candidates

Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has scanned about 75 per cent of the starry sky during its primary mission which ended on July 6, 2020.

Aug 14, 2020 17:17 IST
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In the latest development, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that its planet hunter TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has found 66 new exoplanets or world beyond our solar system.

The US agency also informed about the discovery of nearly 2,100 more candidates on which astronomers have been working to confirm if they can be called planets.

NASA on August 11 had announced that TESS has scanned about 75 per cent of the starry sky during its primary mission which ended on July 6, 2020.

TESS completes its primary mission:

Patricia Boyd, the Project Scientist for TESS at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland commented on the progress and mentioned that TESS has been producing a torrent of high-quality observations providing valuable data across a wide range of the Science topics.

TESS monitored 24-by-96 degree strips of the sky called sectors for about a month by using its four cameras. The mission had spent its first year observing 13 sectors comprising the Southern Sky and then spent another year by imaging the northern sky.

TESS’s newest planetary discoveries:

•  Among the TESS’s discoveries are its first Earth-sized world, which is named TOI 700d. It is located in the habitable zone of its star, the range of distances where the conditions may be just right to allow liquid water on the surface.

•  TESS also revealed a newly minted planet around the young star AU Microscopii and also found a Neptune-size world orbiting two suns.

•  In addition to the planetary discoveries, TESS observed the outburst of a comet in our solar system, as well as numerous exploding stars.

•  In a more remarkable discovery, as per NASA, TESS watched as a black hole in a distant galaxy shredded a Sun-like star.

TESS on an extended mission:

NASA while informing about the latest discoveries, further informed that as TESS enters its extended mission, it is already a roaring success. In its extended mission, now TESS has turned around to resume surveying the South.

After spending a year imaging a Southern sky, TESS will be taking another 15 months to collect the additional observations in the North and also survey areas along the ecliptic, that the satellite has not yet imaged. Ecliptic is a plane of Earth’s orbit around the sun.

The extended mission for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will be completed in September 2022.

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