NASA’s TESS spacecraft has already found 2,200 possible planets
NASA’s TESS (Satellite for the investigation of exoplanets in transit) easily beat his goals. The space agency has revealed that his spaceship has spotted more than 2,200 potential planets since start his mission in 2018. Hundreds of them are small planets, some of which could include rocky worlds that are more Earth-like (though not necessarily habitable).
TESS was originally expected to find 1,600 planets in its first two years.
Some of the findings are decidedly unusual. The rocky planet TOI-700 d is only 100 light years away. LHS 3844 b is a “hot super-Earth” with an orbit extremely close to 11 o’clock. TOI 1690 b is the rare survivor of a red giant star engulfing planets in its orbit, while TOI 849 b appears to be a gas giant that has lost or never had its atmosphere.
Each finding is not guaranteed to stand up to scrutiny. So far, only 120 planets have been confirmed and NASA is betting on future spacecraft like the James Webb Space Telescope to study the candidate planets in more detail. Even so, the volume of the planets has already said a lot about their variety and what it could mean for the cosmos as a whole.