NASA launching planet-hunting telescope searching for habitable planets

16 April, 2018, 23:22 | Author: Darnell Taylor
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In fact, SpaceX will try to recover the payload fairings again today (April 16) when it launches a Falcon 9 carrying NASA's next exoplanet-hunting space telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.

According to reports, the satellite, which is aimed at finding far-away planets that could potentially support life, will be launched at 6:32 pm US Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Based on Kepler observations, there are more than 2,300 "exoplanets", something that transformed scientists' understanding of planets beyond the solar system.

He started the series of tweets with the acknowledgment that "This is gonna sound insane", and then said, "SpaceX will try to bring rocket upper stage back from orbital velocity using a giant party balloon". It was subsequently taken on by NASA as an Explorer Class (EX) Mission, with Orbital ATK awarded the contract to actually put the thing together in 2013.

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Tess will find the most promising exoplanets orbiting relatively nearby stars, giving future researchers a rich set of new targets for more comprehensive follow-up studies, including the potential to assess their capacity to harbour life.

The spacecraft will be looking for a phenomenon known as a transit, where a planet passes in front of its star, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star's brightness.

Since stars that will be surveyed by TESS will be closer and brighter than those surveyed by Kepler, the planets should be easier to characterise.

Tess will make up for that, as it will spend two years observing 200,000 of the brightest stars in the sky, a lot of them located no more than 300 light years away.

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