NASA Finds New Planet In Habitual Zone

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NASA has discovered a new earth-sized planet, TOI 700 d, that is in the habitual zone and may potentially have life. The habitual zone is a zone where temperatures would allow for liquid water. Water an important part of our life here on Earth and scientists hypothesize that any extraterrestrial life would have the same requirement. Having liquid water is a sign that a planet may contain life.

The planet was discovered by one of NASA’s satellites that is looking for planets and signals from space, called TESS. The planet was discovered as one of three new worlds in a faraway solar system. The discovery was announced on January 6th at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

TESS was designed and launched to find earth-sized planets near stars, and finding planet TOI 700 d was a key scientific breakthrough. Although scientists don’t know much about planet TOI 700 d, they know that it orbits around a star similar to the way Earth rotates around the Sun. The star that it orbits is a small dwarf star that appears to be about 40% of the Sun’s mass and size and about half of the Sun’s surface temperature. TOI 700 d completes an orbit every 37 days and receives about 86% of the energy from its star that the Sun provides to Earth.

Scientists have spotted three different planets that orbit around the star: TOI 700 b, c, and d. TOI 700 b and c orbit too close to the star to possibly contain life, but TOI 700 d is in the habitual zone. TOI 700 b is about Earth-size and is seemingly rocky and TOI 700 c is much larger than earth and is likely a gas-dominated world. Scientists are confident that TOI 700 d is tidally locked, which means that one side is a constant day and the other side is constantly night.

Scientists are using simulations and other tests to predict if TOI 700 d has an atmosphere and what its terrain is like. In the future, we may know what TOI 700 d looks like and if it contains life. TOI 700 d was a significant discovery for scientists, and it may reveal new mysteries in space.