NASA's TESS Spacecraft Begins Hunting Exoplanets

  • NASA's TESS Spacecraft Begins Hunting Exoplanets

NASA's TESS Spacecraft Begins Hunting Exoplanets

During the next couple of years, scientists believe that TESS should be able to easily locate thousands of these exoplanets in transit, with some of them capable of harboring life of some kind.

"I'm thrilled that our new planet hunter mission is ready to start scouring our solar system's neighborhood for new worlds", Paul Hertz, head of NASA's astrophysics division, said in the statement about TESS.

NASA's new planet hunting satellite is getting to work. As it approaches Earth, it will rotate, and transmit all its accumulated data to scientists on the ground. "Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the unusual, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover".

Another innovation will be that TESS will not watch for the sun and bright stars, about the planets that astronomers today know nearly nothing.

TESS will search for exoplanets by looking for them as they pass in front of, or transit, the stars they orbit.

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. NASA expects TESS will find thousands of exoplanets during the course of its mission, with a particular focus on those around relatively nearby stars.

For this reason, all of the most interesting discoveries will be explored further TESS of the largest ground-based telescopes that can open the planet for the shifts in the spectrum of their star, and built orbital Observatory "James Webb", which will replace the Hubble in the early 2020s.

The telescope has four cameras, each with a 16.8 megapixel sensor. For the next two years, TESS will be monitoring numerous nearest and brightest of the stars and analyzing their periodic dips of light.

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope found more than 2,600 exoplanets, most orbiting faint stars between 300 and 3,000 light-years from Earth, using this same method of watching for transits.

NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission, TESS, is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky, and now TESS will open our eyes to the variety of planets around some of the closest stars", said Hertz prior to the satellite's launch.