Science

NASA's new planet hunting probe begins operations

NASA's new planet hunting probe begins operations”

Once the first dataset has been received, TESS scientists will begin combing through the information to identify any signs of new planets.

Out of the many satellites that have been used by NASA, TESS is the latest one that is searching for exoplanets outside our solar system. The space agency plans for this mission to last two years, during which time it will likely find thousands of new planets.

These events, called transits, suggest that a planet may be passing in front of its star.

But whereas Kepler was limited to poring over a small patch of sky during its primary mission, TESS will study nearly all of the sky in its two planned years of observations. These transit cause minute, periodic dips in brightness of the stars that the cameras on TESS will detect.

"I'm thrilled that our new planet hunter mission is ready to start scouring our solar system's neighborhood for new worlds", said Paul Hertz, NASA Astrophysics division director at Headquarters, Washington.

The newest planet-hunting satellite from NASA's stable has crossed our galaxy and started its hunt beyond.

The spacecraft, launched April 18 on a SpaceX Falcon 9, is now in its final 13.5-day orbit around the Earth and has completed checkout of its cameras.

The TESS telescope equipped with four telescopes with matrices a resolution of 16.8 megapixels, which operate in the spectral range from 600 to 1000 nanometers.

"With possibly more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the odd, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover", said Hertz. Because of the overlapping of TESS's observation sectors, the spacecraft will have an area near the pole under constant observation. As it approaches Earth, it will rotate, and transmit all its accumulated data to scientists on the ground.

For updates on the progress of the mission, there is an official NASA TESS Twitter account, as well as an official website that the space agency has maintained since the development and construction stages of the telescope.

The mission isled and operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. This region is easily monitored by the James Webb Space Telescope, which allows the two missions to work together to first find, and then carefully study exoplanets, expanding our understanding of worlds beyond our own.



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