Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

NASA Ups Its Planet-Hunting Game with the Launch of TESS

NASA Ups Its Planet-Hunting Game with the Launch of TESS

As MIT professor, Sara Seager, explained that NASA's new satellite will be the flawless tool for discovering which new exoplanets we should be studying next.

However, NASA's TESS - short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite - is expected to change that after it launches to orbit on Monday.

The Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite has been in the works for years and in a way could be considered a sort of direct successor to the Kepler, the incredibly fruitful mission that has located thousands of exoplanets over almost a decade.

TESS will also be primed to identify the worlds circling red dwarfs, the small, dim stars that make up around roughly three-quarters of the stars in the sky. The eye on the sky has found 2,600 confirmed alien worlds. The satellite will spend full 13.7-day orbits observing a segment, then move on to the next one.

The first year of observations will cover 13 sectors encompassing the southern sky and the second year will map the remaining 13 sectors of the northern sky.

The little yellow patches are Kepler's various fields of view. 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.

Because TESS surveys the whole sky it will provide data on many more stars than Kepler did. "We're going to be able study individual planets and start talking about the differences between planets. Tess will find a pool of planets like that".

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Inexperienced, who has headed NASA's Planetary Sciences Division since August 2006, will begin his new job on Would possibly 1.

TESS being checked pre-launch; engineers included for scale. The scientists expect that thousands of these stars would host transiting planets that they hope to locate through images taken with the cameras of TESS. The launch, under normal circumstances, will commence on Monday morning, starting at 6:32 EDT, from the Launch Complex 40 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida, in the USA.

If TESS observes a periodic dimming of light from a particular star, it's reasonable to infer that the star is being orbited by at least one alien world. The overall effect is the moon's pull is evened out, and it's a very stable configuration over many years.

And TESS could potentially last much longer than Kepler, which is set to run out of fuel sometime this year.

This isn't the first time scientists will have used the transit method to find new exoplanets.

SpaceX is the launch partner, and the Falcon 9 rocket on which it will ride into orbit has already been test fired.

You'll be able to watch the launch live, of course; I'll add a link as soon as it's available. TESS is packaged up and ready to go, as you see at right.

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