|Within just 50 light-years from Earth, there are about 1,560 stars, likely orbited by several thousand planets. About a thousand of these extrasolar planets — known as exoplanets — may be rocky and have a composition similar to Earth’s. Some||
By Daniel Apai
may even harbor life. Over 99% of these alien worlds remain undiscovered — but this is about to change.
With NASA’s new exoplanet-hunter space telescope TESS, the all-sky search is on for possibly habitable planets close to our solar system. TESS — orbiting Earth every 13.7 days — and ground-based telescopes are poised to find hundreds of planets over the next few years. This could transform astronomers’ understanding of alien worlds around us and provide targets to scan with next-generation telescopes for signatures of life.