Washington : In one of the biggest developments in the search for habitable planets, NASA has discovered a “Super-Earth” estimated to be about six times the size of our planet and located merely 31 light-years away.
The Super-Earth planet — named GJ 357 d — was discovered in early 2019 owing to NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a mission designed to comb the heavens for exoplanets, according to the research published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The planet orbits a dwarf star in the Hydra constellation and may have the right conditions to support liquid water as it lies within its star’s habitable zone, reported CNN.
“This is exciting, as this is humanity’s first nearby super-Earth that could harbour life — uncovered with help from TESS, our small, mighty mission with a huge reach,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy at Cornell University in the US and a member of the TESS science team.
The average temperature of the planet is estimated to be around -64 degrees Fahrenheit ( -53 degree Celsius), but it could still maintain liquid water on its surface like Earth owing to its thick atmosphere.
TESS began its space operation in July 2018, promising to survey about 85 per cent of the sky. The satellite has so far discovered more than 20 planets outside of our solar system.