NESSI Emerges as New Tool for Exoplanet Atmospheres

The Hale Telescope is located on Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, California. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Palomar Mountain, Calif. (NASA PR) — The darkness surrounding the Hale Telescope breaks with a sliver of blue sky as the dome begins to open, screeching with metallic, sci-fi-like sounds atop San Diego County’s Palomar Mountain. The historic observatory smells of the oil pumped in to support the bearings that make this giant telescope float ever so slightly as it moves to track the stars.

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“Cold Neptune” And Two Temperate Super-Earths Found Orbiting Nearby Stars

Artist’s concept of GJ229Ac, the nearest temperate super-Earth to us that is in a system in which the host star has a brown dwarf companion. Top Right Image: An artist’s concept of GJ180d, which is the nearest temperate super-Earth to us that is not tidally locked to its star, making it more likely to be able to host and sustain life. Illustrations are by Robin Dienel, courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Washington, DC (Carnegie Institution for Science PR) — A “cold Neptune” and two potentially habitable worlds are part of a cache of five newly discovered exoplanets and eight exoplanet candidates found orbiting nearby red dwarf stars, which are reported in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series by a team led by Carnegie’s Fabo Feng and Paul Butler.

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New Technique May Give NASA’s Webb Telescope a Way to Quickly Identify Planets with Oxygen

Conceptual image of water-bearing (left) and dry (right) exoplanets with oxygen-rich atmospheres. Crescents are other planets in the system, and the red sphere is the M-dwarf star around which the exoplanets orbit. The dry exoplanet is closer to the star, so the star appears larger. (Credits: NASA/GSFC/Friedlander-Griswold)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Researchers may have found a way that NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope can quickly identify nearby planets that could be promising for our search for life, as well as worlds that are uninhabitable because their oceans have vaporized.

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NASA Planet Hunter Finds its 1st Earth-size Habitable-zone World

The three planets of the TOI 700 system orbit a small, cool M dwarf star. TOI 700 d is the first Earth-size habitable-zone world discovered by TESS. (Credit: 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 its first Earth-size planet in its star’s habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. Scientists confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet’s potential environments to help inform future observations.

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NASA’s TESS Mission Uncovers Its 1st World with Two Stars

By Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Greenbelt, Md. — In 2019, when Wolf Cukier finished his junior year at Scarsdale High School in New York, he joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a summer intern. His job was to examine variations in star brightness captured by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and uploaded to the Planet Hunters TESS citizen science project.

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Liftoff for Cheops, ESA’s Exoplanet Mission

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — ESA’s Cheops mission lifted off on a Soyuz-Fregat launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 09:54:20 CET on 18 December on its exciting mission to characterise planets orbiting stars other than the Sun.

Signals from the spacecraft, received at the mission control centre based at INTA in Torrejón de Ardoz near Madrid, Spain, via the Troll ground tracking station at 12:43 CET confirmed that the launch was successful.

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ESA to Launch Cheops Exoplanet Satellite on Tuesday

CHEOPS space telescope (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Tune in to ESA Web TV from  08:30 GMT (09:30 CET) Tuesday, 17 December to watch ESA’s exoplanet mission soar into space on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Cheops, the CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite, is scheduled for liftoff at 08:54 GMT (09:54 CET)  on its exciting mission to study planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. It is ESA’s first mission dedicated to the study of exoplanets.

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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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