NASA’s TESS Presents Panorama of Southern Sky

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The glow of the Milky Way — our galaxy seen edgewise — arcs across a sea of stars in a new mosaic of the southern sky produced from a year of observations by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Constructed from 208 TESS images taken during the mission’s first year of science operations, completed on July 18, the southern panorama reveals both the beauty of the cosmic landscape and the reach of TESS’s cameras.

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Exoplanet and Cosmology Discoveries Win Nobel Prize in Physics

Exoplanet imaginarium (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA congratulates 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics laureates Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who have been awarded the prestigious prize for the first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star, and James Peebles, honoured for the theoretical framework of cosmology used to investigate the Universe on its largest scales.

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Swiss Exoplanet Discoverers Mayor and Queloz Awarded Nobel Prize for Physics

Exoplanet discovered by Nobel Laureates Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz. (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesset/N. Rissinger — skysurvey.org)
  • Their discovery of the exoplanet 51 Pegasi b in 1995 spawned a revolution in astronomy.
  • The Search for exoplanets is becoming increasingly important at DLR.
  • The two ESA missions CHEOPS (2019) and PLATO (2026) will focus on Earth-like planets.
  • Focus: astronomy, exploration, search for exoplanets, astrobiology

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The discovery of the first exoplanet almost 25 years ago changed our perception of the origin and evolution of the Universe and challenged the uniqueness of our own Solar System. Today, scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and other organisations are using new techniques and instruments on ESA missions such as CHEOPS and PLATO to set their sights even higher – the hunt for a second Earth.

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NASA’s Hubble Finds Water Vapor on Habitable-Zone Exoplanet for 1st Time

This artist’s impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system. K2-18b is now the only super-Earth exoplanet known to host both water and temperatures that could support life. UCL researchers used archive data from 2016 and 2017 captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and developed open-source algorithms to analyze the starlight filtered through K2-18b’s atmosphere. The results revealed the molecular signature of water vapor, also indicating the presence of hydrogen and helium in the planet’s atmosphere. (Credits: ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Its size and surface gravity are much larger than Earth’s, and its radiation environment may be hostile, but a distant planet called K2-18b has captured the interest of scientists all over the world. For the first time, researchers have detected water vapor signatures in the atmosphere of a planet beyond our solar system that resides in the “habitable zone,” the region around a star in which liquid water could potentially pool on the surface of a rocky planet.

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NASA’s TESS Mission Scores ‘Hat Trick’ With 3 New Worlds

This infographic illustrates key features of the TOI 270 system, located about 73 light-years away in the southern constellation Pictor. The three known planets were discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite through periodic dips in starlight caused by each orbiting world. Insets show information about the planets, including their relative sizes, and how they compare to Earth. Temperatures given for TOI 270’s planets are equilibrium temperatures, calculated without the warming effects of any possible atmospheres. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger)

By Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has discovered three new worlds — one slightly larger than Earth and two of a type not found in our solar system — orbiting a nearby star. The planets straddle an observed gap in the sizes of known planets and promise to be among the most curious targets for future studies.

TESS Object of Interest (TOI) 270 is a faint, cool star more commonly identified by its catalog name: UCAC4 191-004642. The M-type dwarf star is about 40% smaller than the Sun in both size and mass, and it has a surface temperature about one-third cooler than the Sun’s. The planetary system lies about 73 light-years away in the southern constellation of Pictor.

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NASA’s TESS Mission Completes First Year of Survey, Turns to Northern Sky

llustration of L 98-59b, the smallest exoplanet discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Ravyn Cullor)

By Ravyn Cullor
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered 21 planets outside our solar system and captured data on other interesting events occurring in the southern sky during its first year of science. TESS has now turned its attention to the Northern Hemisphere to complete the most comprehensive planet-hunting expedition ever undertaken.

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NASA’s TESS Mission Finds Its Smallest Planet Yet

The three planets discovered in the L98-59 system by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) are compared to Mars and Earth in order of increasing size in this illustration. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

By Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered a world between the sizes of Mars and Earth orbiting a bright, cool, nearby star. The planet, called L 98-59b, marks the tiniest discovered by TESS to date.

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Starshade Would Take Formation Flying to Extremes

This artist’s concept shows the geometry of a space telescope aligned with a starshade, a technology used to block starlight in order to reveal the presence of planets orbiting that star. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA-JPL-Caltech PR) — Anyone who’s ever seen aircraft engaged in formation flying can appreciate the feat of staying highly synchronized while airborne. In work sponsored by NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP), engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are taking formation flying to a new extreme.

Their work marks an important milestone within a larger program to test the feasibility of a technology called a starshade. Although starshades have never flown in space, they hold the potential to enable groundbreaking observations of planets beyond our solar system, including pictures of planets as small as Earth.

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Planet-Hunter CubeSat Images Los Angeles

This image of the greater Los Angeles area was taken on March 29, 2019 by ASTERIA, the Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics satellite. The Port of Long Beach is visible near the center of the image. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — A small satellite designed to hunt for new planets beyond the solar system recently looked down at Earth to capture an image of California’s “City of Stars.”

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Made in Space Selected for Two NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

Made in Space will continue to pursue the development of advanced glass alloys and 3-D manufactured structures for space interferometry missions under a pair of contract awards from NASA.

The space agency selected the additive-manufacturing company for awards under phase II of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The contracts are worth a maximum of $750,000 apiece for up to two years.

“The next step in the industrialization of LEO is the formulation of base materials, such as specialty glasses, that can be refined into higher value products in microgravity,” the company said in a summary of its proposal. “The Glass Alloy Manufacturing Machine (GAMMA) is an experimental system designed to investigate how these materials form without the effects of gravity-induced flows and inform process improvements for commercial product development.”

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NIAC Award: Dual Use Exoplanet Telescope

Dual Use Exoplanet Telescope (Credit; Tom Ditto)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months

Dual Use Exoplanet Telescope (DUET)
Tom Ditto
3DeWitt LLC

The Dual Use Exoplanet Telescope (DUET) advances NASA’s discovery missions to find and characterize exo-planetary systems. The novel telescope design has the ability to detect exoplanets both indirectly (with radial velocity and astrometry techniques) and directly with advanced spectroscopy. DUET has an annulus gossamer membrane holographic primary objective that has four times the collection area and twice the diameter of the largest planned ground telescopes, yet its mass and stowage allow it to be delivered on a single lifter.

Unlike competing exoplanet finders, DUET does not require a coronagraph or star shade. It subtracts the parent star by taking advantage of the differences between the wavelengths of the star and its planets as a function of the distances between them. This is made possible by using a dual dispersion technique first studied by Newton in his famous prism experiment. In this telescope, wavelength is proportional to the distance of an exoplanet from its parent star.

The mission will result in a census of planets on half of all visible stars. In the “neighborhood” of earth, DUET will make spectrographic characterizations. DUET will deliver a positive signal for any water bearing planets using a Rayleigh scattering method in the near UV that in our solar system is unique to earth. Earth may be a “pale blue dot,” but in the near-UV it is luminescent. Such a signal for an exoplanet on an A, F or G class main sequence star would point to Earth 2.0.

2019 Phase 1 and Phase II Selections
2011-2019 Consolidated List











Europe’s Exoplanet Satellite Completes Final Tests

Artist impression of Cheops, the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, with an exoplanet system in the background. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

MADRID (ESA PR) — ESA’s Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, was recently declared ready to fly after completing a series of final spacecraft tests.

Cheops will lift off as a secondary passenger on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket launching from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The satellite will be stored at the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Madrid for a few months before being shipped to the launch site, targeting the launch time slot between 15 October and 14 November in 2019.
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“Goldilocks” Stars May Be “Just Right” for Finding Habitable Worlds

This is an artist’s concept of a planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a K star. (Credits: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/Tim Pyle)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Scientists looking for signs of life beyond our solar system face major challenges, one of which is that there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone to consider. To narrow the search, they must figure out: What kinds of stars are most likely to host habitable planets?

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Kepler’s Final Exoplanet Discovery Revealed

Artist’s impression of Kepler 1568-b and its host star. (Credit: Gabriel Perez Diaz Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias)

SYDNEY, Australia (University of Sydney PR) — Just months after its mission ended and a decade after its launch, glimmers of data detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope in 2009 have been confirmed as evidence for a large, hot-Jupiter-like planet orbiting a star 2600 light years from Earth.

That 10-year mission to find distant planets around distant stars has shown that the universe is literally teeming with planets. There are more than 2300 confirmed exoplanets, ranging from huge gas giants to rocky worlds, perhaps not dissimilar to Earth.

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NASA’s TESS Rounds Up its First Planets, Snares Far-flung Supernovae

Credit: NASA

By Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found three confirmed exoplanets, or worlds beyond our solar system, in its first three months of observations.

The mission’s sensitive cameras also captured 100 short-lived changes — most of them likely stellar outbursts — in the same region of the sky. They include six supernova explosions whose brightening light was recorded by TESS even before the outbursts were discovered by ground-based telescopes.

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