TESS, the Transitioning Exoplanet Survey Satellite was launched this year in April, aboard of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It reached the orbit, successfully completed tests and even sent awesome images to Earth.
But it has already started its job, and according to NASA’s recent announcement, TESS has just found an alien “super-Earth” planet far away in the deep space. Could this planet host life forms?
Sixty light years away from Earth, the bright star Pi Mensae in the Mensa constellation hosts a super-Earth planet. That means the planet is over 350,000,000,000,000 miles away, which makes any chance of reaching it null.
Super-Earth Pi Men C
Scientists called it Pi Men C, and approximate that the planet is 2.14 times bigger than the radius of our planet and has 4.82 times more mass. There is one thing that makes its chances of hosting life close to none: it is 50 times closer to the star than Mercury is to our sun. NASA explained that the planet also needs 6.3 days to orbit around the star.
Analysis of the data collected by the planet hunter shows that the planet might be completely filled with water – which means it has one of the building blocks of life. But because it’s too close to its star, it would be filled with boiling water and steam – there’s no way life could survive in the scorching environment.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists Chelsea Huang stated that Pi Men C is “likely to have a rocky core and an extended atmosphere made of hydrogen and helium,” adding that the planet could be “evaporating right now, given the intense irradiation it gets from its host star.”
Even though TESS might have caught a glimpse of a planet nearly disintegrating, it will have many chances of seeing other planets for the next years. NASA stated that TESS, the “first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, around a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.