Could a habitable atmosphere extend beyond Earth?
A recent NASA discovery strengthens the possibility.
NASA on Jan. 31 announced a potentially habitable planet named TOI-715 b, noting in a press release that the planet is “fairly close to us” at 137 light-years away, a close proximity from an astronomical standpoint.
The planet is slightly larger than Earth, measuring about 1½ times as wide, according to the space exploration organization.
It orbits a small reddish star within the “conservative habitable zone,” the distance from the star that would provide the planet with a suitable temperature for the formation of liquid water on its surface, according to NASA.
NASA notes that temperature is one important factor for water to form, among many others.
The parent star is smaller and cooler than the sun, allowing the planet to orbit more tightly.
This close orbit makes a year on the planet just 19 days long.
There is a second Earth-sized planet that could be in this same system and also exhibits qualities that could make it potentially habitable.
If confirmed, this second planet “would become the smallest habitable-zone planet discovered by TESS so far,” according to NASA.
TESS stands for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which was launched in 2018.
The purpose of TESS is to “discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest dwarf stars in the sky,” according to NASA.
This discovery will need to be further explored to uncover more about the properties of the exoplanets. Deeper looks are done mostly by the James Webb Space Telescope.