Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
IT&Software | By Alfonso Woods

NASA TESS launch highly likely on Monday

NASA TESS launch highly likely on Monday

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), set to launch today (16 April 2018), is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life.

"NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite - TESS - will fly in an orbit that completes two circuits around Earth every time the Moon orbits once", the space agency explains.

"These are the exoplanets that will be easiest to follow up, so that we can study the planets in great detail and learn more about their characteristics", Paul Hertz, who heads NASA's astrophysics division, said during a pre-launch briefing.

Although Kepler and TESS use similar technology, the former is capable of scanning for stars and planets 3,000 light years away from earth.

When finished, it's expected that TESS will have surveyed 85% of the visible sky on its planet-hunting mission. But no one differs any longer on the fact that there is a multitude of worlds on which life at least could take hold-and TESS is about to find even more.

NASA's LIVE Coverage of the TESS Satellite launch aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket. But it was not until the Kepler Space Telescope was launched in 2009 that the exoplanet population exploded. The launch of TESS will mark another collaboration between NASA and the SpaceX company.

Once TESS has spotted these new planets, terrestrial and space telescopes will be able to study them more precisely. She added by saying that " We might even find planets that orbit stars that we can even see with the naked eye". A lot of follow-up work will go into determining whether these candidates are truly planets, rather than binary stars, artifacts in the data or something else.

Ricker and other scientists said the planetary catalog generated by TESS could well become the guidebook for that armada.

TESS is created to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which discovered the bulk of some 3,700 exoplanets documented by astronomers during the past 20 years and is about to run out of fuel.

Exoplanets are planets that orbit a star other than the sun.

"To me, TESS represents the very first opportunity to really, truly make progress in this area of trying to find signs of life on other worlds", Seager told me.

Once launched, the planet-seeking satellite will spend two years in space, surveying around 200,000 stars in hopes of spotting alien planets that might be hiding in their shadow.

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