In DepthAstronomy

New missions aim to make a short list of exo-Earths

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  30 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6383, pp. 1453
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6383.1453

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

Thanks to NASA's pioneering Kepler probe, we know our galaxy is teeming with exoplanets. Now, a new generation of exoplanet hunters is set to home in on rocky worlds closer to home. Over 9 years in space, Kepler has found more than 2600 confirmed exoplanets. The new efforts sacrifice sheer numbers and target Earth-size planets whose composition, atmosphere, and climate—factors in whether they might be hospitable to life—could be probed. Leading the charge is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a NASA mission due for launch on 16 April. The $337 million TESS project aims to identify at least 50 rocky exoplanets—Earth-size or bigger—close enough for their atmospheres to be scrutinized by the much larger James Webb Space Telescope, due for launch in 2020.