Earth-Sized, Potentially Habitable Planet Discovered 100 Light-Years Away

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Less than two years after starting its mission, NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, has found what may be its first habitable planet, CNN reports.

The body orbits the cool M-dwarf star TOI 700 in the Dorado constellation 100 light-years away from Earth. According to NASA, the planet, dubbed TOI 700 d, is about 20 percent larger than our own and it sits at just the right distance from its sun to support liquid water. It's one of three planets in the solar system, the others likely being an Earth-sized rocky planet and a gas planet 2.6 times the size of Earth. TOI 700 d is believed to be tidally locked, meaning only one half faces the sun at all times, and orbits there last approximately 37 Earth days.

NASA launched TESS in April 2018 with the goal of discovering planets outside our solar system, including those with the potential to host life. The satellite was built to locate Earth-sized planets orbiting neighboring stars, but this recent discovery almost went undetected. The star TOI 700 was initially thought to be as hot as our own sun, which would have made TOI 700 d uninhabitable. Upon closer inspection, researchers noticed the star was actually relatively cool and small, potentially placing TOI 700 d in the Goldilocks zone for nurturing life.

After TESS's finding was confirmed using the infrared technology of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, researchers further studied the planet by modeling its potential atmosphere and surface conditions. These computer models can give astronomers an idea of just how hospitable TOI 700 d is before future missions, such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope launching in 2021, can collect more evidence.

TOI 700 d may be one of the closest known habitable planets to Earth, but that doesn't mean humans will be visiting it anytime soon. To put the 100 light-year distance into perspective, Mars is less than half a light-year away from Earth, and it can take seven months to get there.

[h/t CNN]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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How to See August’s Full Sturgeon Moon

It'd be pure lunacy to skip an opportunity to see this beauty.
It'd be pure lunacy to skip an opportunity to see this beauty.
mnchilemom, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This summer has been an especially exciting time for avid sky-gazers—the NEOWISE comet flew close to Earth in mid-July, and the ongoing Perseid meteor shower is gearing up for its peak around August 11. Though full moons aren’t quite as rare, the sight of a glowing white orb illuminating the night is still worth a glance out your window.

When Is August’s Full Moon?

As The Old Farmer’s Almanac reports, the eighth full moon of 2020 will reach its peak at 11:59 a.m. EST on Monday, August 3. If that’s daytime where you live, you’ll have to wait for the sun to set that night, or you can catch it the night before—Sunday, August 2.

Why Is It Called a Sturgeon Moon?

Each month’s full moon has a nickname (or multiple nicknames), usually of folk origin, that coincides with certain plant, animal, or weather activity common at that time of year. January’s full moon, for example, was named the “wolf moon” because wolves were said to howl more often during January. June’s “strawberry moon” occurred when strawberries were ripe and ready to be picked.

Since people caught an abundance of sturgeon—a large freshwater fish that’s been around since the Mesozoic era—in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain during this part of summer, they started calling August’s full moon the sturgeon moon. It has a few lesser-known monikers, too, including the “full green corn moon” (a nod to the approaching harvest season), and the slightly wordy “moon when all things ripen.”

[h/t The Old Farmer’s Almanac]