TESS launches Monday to discover Earth-like exoplanets

16 April, 2018, 23:57 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • Bulgaria Nasa to Launch Telescope on SpaceX Rocket to Search for Alien Worlds

NASA and SpaceX are kicking off the next stage in the hunt for planets beyond our solar system with today's scheduled launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS.

Therefore the follow-up instrument to Kepler, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has been created to observe the entire sky, and optimized to find stars 30 to 100 times brighter than those Kepler could study.

"We just got done with our launch readiness review, and all went well", said Omar Baez, senior launch director for the Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in a pre-launch briefing on April 15.

Scientists expect Tess to find thousands of exoplanets the term for planets outside our solar system.

But unlike Kepler, which fixed its gaze on a range of stars within a tiny fraction of the sky, TESS will scan a broader swath of the heavens to focus on 200,000 pre-selected stars that are closer and thus among the brightest as seen from Earth.

When finished, it's expected that TESS will have surveyed 85% of the visible sky on its planet-hunting mission.

NASA launching planet-hunting telescope searching for habitable planets
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.


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GREENFIELDBOYCE: And that is very unsatisfying because after all, what scientists really want to do is find another planet like our own, one that some form of life could call home. Will we ever find it?

On Monday, April 16, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

What's more, these planets are close enough for other telescopes to peer inside their atmospheres. The TESS mission will enrich our understanding of how many planets could support life, and even the fraction of those planets where life may actually occur, Seager explained, constraining the equation further.

The spacecraft is not only capable of spotting planets that are outside our solar system, but can also generate rich data about exoplanets.

In terms of exoplanets, NASA's Kepler space telescope has observed more than 300,000 stars and found more than 4,000 exoplanet candidates since it launched in 2009.

The planned launch of TESS comes on the heels of NASA delaying the liftoff of its hotly-anticipated James Webb Space Telescope. SpaceX indicated that the decision to skip a landing had to do with the fact that this particular Falcon 9 has already flown once before for another resupply mission to the space station in August.

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