NASA Satellite Discovers Planet That Could Potentially Support Life
A NASA satellite has discovered a planet that could have the perfect conditions to host life.
The planet, which is about 31 light-years away from us, was picked up by the space agency's TESS satellite and its conditions could support life, according to a bunch of scientists who have been researching it.
NASA has given the planet the name GJ 357 d, which isn't very catchy, but researchers have given it the nickname 'super-Earth', due to the fact it has similar conditions to Earth but is much bigger.
Dr Lisa Kaltenegger, who led a study into the planet, said: "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.
"With a thick atmosphere, the planet GJ 357 d could maintain liquid water on its surface like Earth and we could pick out signs of life with upcoming telescopes soon to be online."
Diana Kossakowski, from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, who co-authored a separate paper for Astronomy & Astrophysics, added: "GJ 357 d is located within the outer edge of its star's habitable zone, where it receives about the same amount of stellar energy from its star as Mars does from the Sun.
"If the planet has a dense atmosphere, which will take future studies to determine, it could trap enough heat to warm the planet and allow liquid water on its surface."
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Well, this is exciting, isn't it?
Near to GJ 357 d is GJ 357 b, which has been dubbed a 'hot Earth' and is around 22 percent bigger than the planet we call home. There's also GJ 357 c, which is at least 3.4 times bigger than Earth - show off.
Scientists believe the b and c planets are too hot to allow life to thrive, but d could offer perfect conditions - the so-called 'Goldilocks Zone', where a planet is 'just right' to support life.
The researchers are now hoping to find out more about the planet and are hoping to discover it has water, which would be a big indication that could hold life.
"We built the first models of what this new world could be like," said Jack Madden, who worked on the study.
"Just knowing that liquid water can exist on the surface of this planet motivates scientists to find ways of detecting signs of life."
Featured Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith