JPL Mission Breaks Record for Smallest Satellite to Detect an Exoplanet

ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station on November 20, 2017. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

About the size of a briefcase, the CubeSat was built to test new technologies but exceeded expectations by spotting a planet outside our solar system.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Long before it was deployed into low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station in Nov. 2017, the tiny ASTERIA spacecraft had a big goal: to prove that a satellite roughly the size of a briefcase could perform some of the complex tasks much larger space observatories use to study exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. A new paper soon to be published in the Astronomical Journal describes how ASTERIA (short for Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) didn’t just demonstrate it could perform those tasks but went above and beyond, detecting the known exoplanet 55 Cancri e.