NASA planet hunter on its way to orbit

TESS Mission - NASA Blogs

The telescope is expected to discover thousands of distant planets, including rocky and habitable worlds, around nearby bright stars across the sky during its 2-year primary mission. The planet hunter's goal is to compile a catalogue which the other telescopes then can study further for future and more detailed analysis.

The first stage of the reusable Falcon 9 has landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship and the second-stage engine has been cut off, making the satellite in coast phase, NASA said.

NASA HAS LAUNCHED a spaceship created to scan the skies for signs of planets where life may exist outside of our solar system.

"TESS is doing a survey of stars which can be easily followed up by ground-based and space telescopes, sweeping across 85% of the sky in just two years".

NASA says the satellite will begin its initial two-year mission 60 days after launch, following tests of its instruments.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was built at Orbital ATK's Dulles, Virginia, facility.




Upcoming telescopes such as the James Webb space observatory, due into orbit in 2020, and the ground-based European Extremely Large Telescope, scheduled for operation in the early 2020s, will further investigate these discoveries (The Economist).

The TESS science team expects to see images like this one when the satellite sends its first batch of data back to Earth.

Scientists will conduct follow-up observations of exoplanet "candidates" using powerful ground- or space-based observatories. - George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge.

Scientists have used their knowledge of what life requires to exist on Earth to narrow down a few fundamental building blocks necessary for it to arise on planets outside of our solar system, called exoplanets. Those camera systems will look for minute, periodic dips in brightness of those stars caused when orbiting plans pass in front of, or transit, the stars. What's more, TESS is looking for particular types of planet, rather than taking a broader census of what's out there. TESS is equipped with four highly sensitive cameras which will help in monitoring the entire sky.

The total exoplanet census stands at more than 3,700 confirmed, with another 4,500 on the not-yet-verified list. "Kepler was a statistical survey that looked at a small patch of sky for [four] years and taught us that Earths are everywhere", Elisa Quintana, an astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Center, said on a Reddit comment.

While Kepler has focused on stars thousands of light-years away, Tess will concentrate on our stellar neighbours which are dozens or hundreds of light-years away.

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