Friday, 20 April, 2018

NASA To Launch Tess Spacecraft In Search For 20000 New Worlds

SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks at a press conference following the first launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida U.S SpaceX founder Musk speaks at a press conference following the first launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in Cape Canaveral Thomson Reuters
Emmett Howard | 16 April, 2018, 23:54

TESS will spend at least two years scrutinizing the entire sky for exoplanets - planets around other stars - within about 300 light years from here.

Tess short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is the heir apparent to the wildly successful Kepler Space Telescope, the pioneer of planetary census.

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.

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

"To get into this orbit, TESS will make a series of loops culminating in a lunar gravity assist, which will give it the final push it needs".

When is the launch and how can I watch it?

Although Kepler and TESS use similar technology, the former is capable of scanning for stars and planets 3,000 light years away from earth.

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While the Kepler mission was considered a major success, NASA noted that most of the planets it recorded are those that orbit faint, faraway stars, making it hard to conduct follow-up observations.

The launch of the James Webb telescope, the most powerful space telescope to date, is now slated for 2020 and will continue research done by TESS.

NASA teased: "Launching Monday, our planet-hunting NASA TESS spacecraft will fly in a unique orbit that'll allow it to study almost the entire sky over two years".

One of the most important aspects of these exploratory space missions is for scientists to identify more planets that could potentially support 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. "We're going to be able study individual planets and start talking about the differences between planets".

NASA and SpaceX engineers are prepping for Monday's scheduled launch of the space agency's next-generation planet-hunter. Through follow-up investigations, astronomers will be able to estimate an exoplanet's mass and the composition of its atmosphere, as well as its habitability. It will collect about 27 gigabytes per day - that's about 6,500 song files - and send data back every two weeks.

The more people that look through the data, the better, the scientists believe. TESS will likely find exoplanets of a kind we've never seen before.

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