NASA’s TESS spacecraft is proceeding to discover ever-smaller planets – and that currently incorporates planets smaller than the human homeworld. The vessel has discovered a planet in the L 98-59 system, L 98-59b, that is 80 percent the size of Earth – and 10 percent littler than TESS’ past smallest finding. You won’t planning a vacation any time soon, unfortunately.
The system is 34.6 light-years away, and the majority of the planets found up until now (there are bigger 59c and 59d planets) sit in the “Venus zone” where a runaway greenhouse gas effect could render them uninhabitable.
TESS recognized the planets by utilizing travels (normal dunks in the star’s brilliance brought about by passing planets). You may get more data soon, at any rate. TESS finishes its first year of concentrates in July, and that could be sufficient to both gather more insight regarding the known planets and conceivably spot more.
This isn’t a record for NASA all in all. Kepler-37b, for example, though, and raises hope that it’ll detect rocky worlds that warrant closer study with the James Webb Space Telescope.
This isn’t just about the quest to find extrasolar life, either. The data could help explain why planets either become habitable or devolve into Venus-like hellscapes.