NASA’s TESS Mission Discovers Its Smallest Planet

NASA’s TESS Mission Discovers Its Smallest Planet

Ever since NASA launched TESS, it has been finding exoplanets on a regular basis. Recently, NASA revealed that Transitioning Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS has discovered its smallest planet till date.

Named L 98-59b, the planet orbits a distant star alongside two other planets, L 98-59c and L 98-59d. Although scientists have determined the size of the planets, they will need to study them more to understand the formation of these planets.

Although scientists will need to conduct further studies to understand the planet, L 98-59b doubles the number of exoplanets till date. The planet is just 80 percent of Earth’s size and is 10 percent smaller than the previously smallest planet discovered by TESS. The host star of the planet on the other hand is an M dwarf which is one third of the mass of our Sun and is located 35 light-years away in the constellation Volans.

As for the other two planets, the L 98-59c and L 98-59d are respectively around 1.4 and 1.6 times of Earth’s size.

At the moment, TESS monitors one region of a sky or sector for 27 days at a time. When the satellite finishes its first year in the space, the planetary system will appear in seven out of thirteen sectors that make up the southern sky. With these data, the researchers hope to understand the planets’ formations.

Unfortunately, none of these planets lie in the habitable zone or the distance away from the host star where a planet can contain liquid water. More, these planets occupy the ‘Venus zone’ which contains planets with initial Earth-like atmosphere but could experience events that could turn their atmosphere similar to Venus’.

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