NASA and SpaceX Are About to Launch Planet-Hunting Satellite TESS

NASA and SpaceX Are About to Launch Planet-Hunting Satellite TESS

Over the past several years Kepler Space Telescope of NASA has accelerated the pace of discovery, making it transparent the galaxy is awash with planets.

Lori Glaze, the current head of the Planetary Geology, Geophysics and Geochemistry Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Coronary heart in Greenbelt, Maryland, will turn into performing director of the Planetary Sciences Division when Inexperienced assumes his new place, firm officers talked about. Much like NASA's Kepler space observatory, TESS will use its high-spec tech to pinpoint undiscovered planets.

TESS is NASA's next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, known as exoplanets, including those that could support life. But most of the time, we can't see them.

Four wide-field cameras will give TESS a field-of-view that covers 85 percent of our entire sky.

Although about to start a new campaign, it is gradually running out of fuel and drifting further away from Earth. The deputy manager of the TESS Objects of Interest project, Natalia Guerrero said that a lot of the stars that Kepler found exoplanets around were extremely faint and really far away that made them really hard to follow up on from the ground, hence, TESS came about to be even more useful to the broader astronomical community.

While the Kepler was able to survey a very specific part of the sky for exoplanets, finding worlds of many sizes, TESS will help researchers find more planets that are around the same size as Earth, helping scientists along in the search for a world out there in the universe like our own.

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Once blasted into space, it will eventually sit in a special orbit (red) that goes out to 250,000 kilometres then sweeps back to within 100,000 kilometres of Earth.

But if Kepler was a telephoto aimed at dim targets far in the distance, TESS is an ultra-wide-angle lens that will watch almost the entire visible sky.

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. 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.

Kepler, who has discovered over 4500 planets and exoplanets, was placed on the Earth's orbit in 2009. In a few years - if TESS's two-year mission is extended long enough - it could eventually find the kinds of rocky, habitable-zone planets that Kepler could.

Presently, more than a decade since the MIT scientists initially proposed the mission, TESS is about to get off the ground. Once it safely enters space, the craft will receive a timely gravitational assist from the moon, which will insert it into a highly eccentric orbit that brings it close to earth about every two weeks.

"TESS is going to essentially provide the catalog, like the phone book, if you will, of all the best planets for following up, for looking at their atmospheres and studying more about them."

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