NASA's TESS Discovers 'Super-Earth' and 'Hot Earth' Candidate Planets

On Wednesday and Thursday, NASA's TESS announced it discovered its first two candidate planets, on being likened to a "super earth" and the other being dubbed "hot earth."

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is on a mission to identify planets of various sizes, ultimately monitoring the brightness of more than 500,000 stars during its two-year mission.

On Wednesday, TESS announced the first candidate planet of the mission would be a Super-Earth. Occupying space in the universe almost 60 light years away from Earth the planet orbits around the bright star Pi Mensae once every 6.3 days.

A planet is classified as a Super-Earth if it's at least three times the mass of Earth and can be as big as 10 times the size of Earth.

TESS explained that the discovery was sent to other scientists to be reviewed and encouraged people who were interested to "stay tuned."

The planet's mass and radius reportedly show a water-like density and is its system's second known planet. The other planet orbiting Pi Mensae, Pi Mensae b, was discovered in 2001 and has a mass 10 times the size of Jupiter. It orbits the star every 5.7 years.

Less than 24 hours after the first candidate planet was announced, TESS shared on Twitter that a second candidate planet was discovered. This planet is slightly larger than the earth and is slightly closer at only 49 light-years away. It orbits the M dwarf star, LHS 3844, and each rotation takes only 11 hours.

nasa tess super earth planet
NASA's TESS announced its first two candidate planets on Wednesday and Thursday. NASA TESS

"This find is being reviewed by other scientists, and we're looking forward to studying this cool 'hot earth," the tweet concluded.

While the discovery of the candidate planets is very exciting, it's unlikely humans will be able to reach either of them any time soon. Unfortunately, at 60 and 49 light years away, the planets are 352,717,522,391,016 miles and 288,052,643,285,996 miles away.

A space shuttle travels at about 17,500 miles per hour, according to NASA, so to venture to the candidate planet orbiting Pi Mensae it would require more than 2.3 million years of travel time. Although the second candidate planet is slightly closer, it would still take almost two million years to reach the planet from Earth.

Stars seen by TESS will be up to 100 times brighter than its predecessor, the Kepler satellite, according to NASA, which will make categorizing them with follow-up observations far easier. In comparison with Kepler's mission, TESS will cover 400 times more sky during its mission.

TESS is the first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey and will conduct a feat that NASA explained is unable to be accomplished using a ground-based survey. It launched on April 18 on the top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.