Science

NASA to launch planet-hunting satellite on April 16

NASA to launch planet-hunting satellite on April 16”

As per the new report, the search process will resume in next week as NASA is now working to send the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) into orbit.

NASA's latest endeavour is created to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which discovered the majority of some 3,500 exoplanets documented throughout the past 20 years, revolutionising one of the most modern fields in space science. One of the systems it discovered, the TRAPPIST-1 system, could have the ingredients to support life, NASA says.

NASA expects TESS to detect thousands more previously unknown worlds, perhaps hundreds of them Earth-sized or "super-Earth"-sized - no larger than twice as big as our home planet". Inside this enormous visual point of view, the sky has been partitioned into 26 areas that TESS will watch one by one.

A number of tests are now underway at Vandenberg to ensure that the spacecraft safely survived its trip to California and is ready to launch in May. The first year of observations will map the 13 sectors encompassing the southern sky, and the second year will map the 13 sectors of the northern sky. In the next month, the spacecraft will be mounted to its rocket, connections between them will be checked, and the launch team will go through a final training.

"So it's flawless timing that we'll be launching TESS to continue the great activity of looking for planets around stars other than our sun and thinking about what it might mean for life in the universe", Paul Hertz, NASA's director of astrophysics, told reporters at a news briefing in Washington on Wednesday.

TESS will concentrate on stars less than 300 light-years away and 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler's targets.

Also because red dwarfs are so small, and their planets orbit more closely than the Earth does to the sun, the dip in light from a planetary transit of a red dwarf is more pronounced compared with a larger star, Latham said.

"TESS is opening a door for a whole new kind of study", said Rinehart, with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. We're going to be able to study individual planets and start talking about the differences between planets. "It's the beginning of a new era of exoplanet research". Water and other key molecules in its atmosphere can give hints about a planets' capacity to harbor life.

TESS will help scientists search for alien worlds outside our solar system that have the possibility of supporting alien life. "To me, the most exciting part of any mission is the unexpected result, the one that nobody saw coming".

TESS weighs around 700 pounds and will operate in an elliptical orbit. George Ricker, of MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, serves as principal investigator for the mission. Four wide-field cameras fitted to the TESS will help the telescope cover nearly 85 percent of our sky. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.



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