Expand chart
Model: NASA; Graphic: Harry Stevens/Axios

Last week, NASA extended the life of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Telescope for two more years, through at least 2022.

Why it matters: TESS is tasked with searching for potentially Earth-like worlds around cool stars not far from our own, and it’s expected to find dozens of them during its life in space.

Scientists have found more than 4,000 confirmed exoplanets, with 21 of those thanks to TESS.

  • While researchers don’t yet have the technology to a figure out whether a world is Earth-like, the planets TESS finds could be good candidates for follow-up observations from future spacecraft that can answer that question.

Details: TESS is just at the end of the first year of its primary mission. In that time, the telescope discovered a variety of planets, including one that’s only about 80% the size of Earth.

  • For the telescope's next act, the satellite is expected to take a look at some areas already seen and observe the ecliptic, the part of the sky covered by the Sun’s path throughout the year, TESS scientist Sara Seager told Axios via email.

Background: TESS finds its planets by waiting for a world to pass in front of its star from Earth’s perspective. When that planet transits across the star, TESS can detect the small dip in light it causes, allowing scientists on Earth to learn more about its characteristics.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Sports

Pac-12 football players threaten coronavirus opt-out

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A group of Pac-12 football players have threatened to opt out of the season unless the conference addresses systemic inequities and concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: College football players have never had more leverage than they do right now, as the sport tries to stage a season amid the pandemic. And their willingness to use it shows we've entered a new age in college sports.

Betting on inflation is paying off big for investors

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The specter of rising inflation is helping power assets like gold, silver and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) to strong returns with record demand this year.

The big picture: Investors continue to pack in even as inflation metrics like the consumer price index (CPI) and personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index have remained anchored.

Scoop: Top CEOs urge Congress to help small businesses

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With a new coronavirus relief measure stalled in Congress, CEOs of some of the world's biggest companies have banded together to send a message to Washington: Get money to small businesses now!

Why it matters: "By Labor Day, we foresee a wave of permanent closures if the right steps are not taken soon," warns the letter, organized by Howard Schultz and signed by more than 100 CEOs.